I just finished my semester of Music Hum with Professor Kaye. I found it to be one of the most frustrating courses I have ever taken at Columbia. I feel as if the reason they don't let you choose your core professors ahead of time is so they can sneak in professors like this. To be fair, I will start with the pros: Professor Kaye was knowledgable about the subject and a relatively clear speaker. Meaning he said words and I understood what they meant. But he is also kind of a lunatic. For the first half of the semester, he did not lecture on any piece of music we would be tested on. He said that he wrote the lectures to be entertaining, and that we had to learn all the relevant information ourselves from the book. He spent anywhere from 10-15 minutes EVERY CLASS talking about how he didn't have time to cover everything we had to learn, and we had to pay close attention to the readings, because that's where the test questions would come from. Aside from being a waste of time, this seemed to illustrate that he is somehow aware that he is shirking his duties as a professor of a core class, which is to teach us about the Masterpieces of Western Music. Instead, he spends his time on pieces that he finds more interesting that may have some connection to the pieces we need to know, in detail, for the exam. He goes so far as to insist that his students don't take notes because they are there to "think" not just "memorize" and that none of the lecture is on the exam. (Despite the fact that none of the lectures were relevant, he still required attendance). After the midterm (which I think everyone did terribly on, but was curved) he started talking about the actual material.
ALSO: in giving us his general feedback on our performance of the midterm, he claimed that we "didn't absorb anything" from lecture and included nothing we learned in class in our midterm essays. When I tried to point out that he had directed us to not take notes, he just talked over me, saying that we should have understood these concepts and been familiar with these pieces of music to bring them into our analysis, even if they weren't in the book. Seriously: delusional.
My classmates expressed frustration over these antics, but no one was motivated to say anything in class. I raised my hand in class and asked if I could give feedback on the exam (the questions are extremely technical and specific, the exam extraordinarily long) and he responded that he "couldn't make everyone happy" and is "always criticized for one thing or the other."
As a side note: he's a total colonial apologist. On the last day of class, he waved away my attempts to discuss the colonial implications of a video he showed, claiming that "if it's not one person's colonialism, it'll be another." Offensive and incorrect.
I expect I will get something around a B or a B+, which is fine, but he is not worth the trouble.