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When music professor Mark Katz says he wants his students to have a hands-on learning experience, he means it. During one of the first classes of the semester, he took 15 first-year students into his office to check out his turntables. For a group of young people raised on listening to CDs and iPods, the experience of playing with turntables was a novelty.

But this “hands on” approach isn’t just for novelty’s sake. His First Year Seminar class, “Making and Marketing Music in the Digital Age,” is all about engagement, interaction and hands-on experiences.

“I want them to experience the music, and I want them to interact with musicians,” he said.

To that end, Katz brings a variety of guests into the classroom — DJs, producers, promoters and entrepreneurs. The students bob their heads as they listen to original tracks and ask questions about the music industry.

“It was just really nice to be able to see and feel what we were actually studying,” said Joseph Baldock, after their class with two local DJs during which they learned about scratching, mixing and performing with digital music.

Other class activities include interviewing local musicians, exploring digital distribution issues and studying the effects of marketing music via social networking platforms.

— Story and video by Mary Lide Parker, class of 2010