Music instructor brings passion and enthusiasm to classroom

Ross Schuette, Staff Writer

There is a woman who roams the halls, cafeteria and copy center of the downtown campus, discreetly disguised as an ordinary college student. She may be easily spotted with exotic hats and arms covered in ink, and one may wonder what she’s studying at Madison College. However, it may come as a surprise that this woman is Alison Hooper, an instructor of music theory fundamentals and various continuing education music courses.

Hooper has been teaching at Madison College since summer of 2010 when she began teaching non-degree courses, and began teaching music theory fundamentals in the 2011 fall semester. She has a very strong music background, having received a degree in vocal jazz performance from the prestigious Columbia College in Chicago, Ill., and a master’s degree in music, with a focus on jazz studies and curriculum instruction from UW-Madison.

Growing up in Green Bay, Hooper started taking piano lessons when she was five years old. She progressed quickly, and in middle school started learning music theory to supplement her natural talents for performing. Knowing music theory gave her a leg up by the time she went to college, so when her peers were initially learning theory in college, she was able to assist them in their studies.

Hooper peer-tutored people with many different learning styles, which is a skill that is still evident in her approach to teaching. She does an extraordinary job conveying concepts, always increasing in complexity, to a diverse crowd of students. Hooper noted that the diversity at Madison College is something she loves because it brings many people from all walks of life together. Specifically, she appreciates the wonder and power of music being able to bring people together.

One of the greatest things Hooper ever heard someone say about music was “if you can apply it to life, you can apply it to music” and “if you can apply it to music, you can apply it to life.” She carries these ideas with great fervor in teaching not just music, but the application of learning and the challenges involved with learning. Hooper helps students realize the beautiful, reciprocal relationship between music and life.

Music is Hooper’s life; not only in the classroom, but outside of the classroom as well. She has her own jazz quintet that she leads and plays with the Kyle Henderson Band around Madison. Her lifestyle is teaching and performing music. This philosophy, in her words, is that “music theory gives us the words to tell our story by linking the mathematics of music to the experience of the individual. The two are inseparable.” This passionate, encompassing view of music makes her incredibly effective in the classroom. She’s not just teaching, but teaching with passion.