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Older adults can rediscover the joy of learning this spring in classes led by outstanding faculty and community experts through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt. Topics include the role of diet in healthy aging, 1970s music, Eudora Welty’s short stories, and an exploration of the solar system and beyond. Other classes focus on the United States during the Gilded Age, memoir writing, the history of big-band music and more. In addition, OLLI Steel Drum Band instruction returns to the Blair School of Music.
“We are excited to offer academically rigorous and timely classes this spring, all of which will be online with the exception of the steel drum band classes,” said Norma Clippard, director of OLLI. “We look forward to the day when all of them can be offered again in person, although a benefit of holding virtual classes is growing our inclusive community beyond Middle Tennessee.”
The following noncredit classes are open to all adults older than 50:
- OLLI Steel Drum Band – Advanced, taught by Mat Britain, adjunct instructor in music, Blair School. This class moves at a fast pace and focuses on learning different styles of music that can be played on pan: Latin, jazz, calypso, reggae, rock and show tunes. Completion of Beginner/Intermediate Steel Drum Band class or an audition is required to enroll. Students will meet for six Sundays, beginning March 20, from 1 to 2:15 p.m., at the Blair School.
- OLLI Steel Drum Band – Beginner/Intermediate, taught by Mat Britain, adjunct instructor in music, Blair School. No previous music experience is needed. Since classes have been on hiatus, Britain will start with the basics and move on to proper playing techniques. Students will meet for six Sundays, beginning March 20, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m., at the Blair School.
- Meditation and Grace, taught by Gordon Peerman, Episcopal priest, psychotherapist and mindfulness and meditation teacher. The course is open to beginning and experienced meditators. Students will meet online for six Mondays, beginning March 21, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
- Film Noir, taught by Sarah Childress, MA’05, PhD’09, curriculum consultant and freelance instructor in cinema studies. By exploring the films of such directors as Alfred Hitchcock, Billy Wilder and John Ford, students will examine the unique interests, themes, conventions and iconography of film noir, as well as how those preoccupations influenced Hollywood filmmaking. Students will meet online for six Mondays, beginning March 21, from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
- History of the Big Bands and the Classic Jazz Trios, co-taught by Lori Mechem, jazz pianist, composer and educator; and Roger Spencer, adjunct artist teacher of jazz ensemble, Blair School. The course has a dual focus on the evolution of the big bands from the smaller Duke Ellington ensembles of the 1920s through the swing eras, followed by the history, style and repertoire of some of the most famous jazz trios. Students will meet online for six Tuesdays, beginning March 22, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
- The Fugitives, the Agrarians and Vanderbilt, taught by Robert Holladay, BA’77, professor of history, Tallahassee Community College. He will discuss the origin and legacy of early 20th-century writers at Vanderbilt known as the Fugitives and the Agrarians and their place in current Southern culture. Students will meet online for six Tuesdays, beginning March 22, from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
- How to Write a Memoir, taught by Carole Webb Moore-Slater, educator and community speaker. The workshop, limited to 16 participants, is designed to motivate and inspire by providing guidelines and organizational tips on getting started writing a personal or family story to save, distribute and/or publish. All classes will be interactive with ideas shared, personal manuscripts read and group feedback provided. Students will meet online for eight Tuesdays, starting March 22, from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
- Moving Forward, Looking Backward: The United States in the Gilded Age, 1869 to 1898, taught by Carole Bucy, MA’72, PhD’02, professor of history, Volunteer State Community College. Topics will include the industrialization of major cities along with the captains of industry, known as robber barons, who accumulated vast fortunes during this time. The class also will cover immigration, westward migration and efforts in Southern states to become a “new South.” Students will meet online for six Wednesdays, beginning March 23, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
- Exploring the Solar System and Beyond, taught by Billy Teets, director of Vanderbilt Dyer Observatory and resident astronomer. Teets will focus on past and present exploration missions that have and will help astronomers unlock secrets within our solar system, the Milky Way and beyond. The course includes a look at the James Webb Space Telescope and what astronomers expect to find through its incredible vision. Students will meet online for six Wednesdays, beginning March 23, from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
- Music of the 1970s, taught by Robert Fry, senior lecturer in music history and literature, Blair School. Topics and musical styles to be covered include disco, hip-hop, progressive rock, funk, country and more. Participants will gain a better understanding of how the decade’s music was both a direct expression of the cultural context in which it was produced and a profound influence on the trajectory of sound and popular culture in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will meet online for six Wednesdays, beginning March 23, from 2:30 to 3:45 p.m.
- Words into Fictions: Readings from the Canon of Eudora Welty, taught by Victor Judge, assistant dean for academic affairs, Divinity School. The course features readings from a collection of Welty’s short stories and an examination of the complexity of her vision, which she inscribes in a prose that critics have called “a quiet greatness.” Students will meet online for six Thursdays, beginning March 24, from 10 to 11:15 a.m.
- The Role of Diet and Nutrition in Healthy Aging, taught by Jamie Pope, adjunct assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing. Pope will discuss some of the physical, psychological and social factors that can compromise adequate nutrition with age, as well as age-related changes and recommendations for energy and nutrient needs, among other topics. Students will meet online for six Thursdays, beginning March 24, from 1:30 to 2:45 p.m.
All class meetings will be on Central Daylight Time. Registration for the classes is open through March 11. Students enrolled in Steel Drum Band must wear masks at all times inside the Blair building.
To enroll or learn more information about the classes, visit the institute’s website or contact Norma Clippard at 615-322-5569.