Blog: Teacher Feature: Chris Hornung, Music Instructor and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department

This week’s Teacher Feature had us at cello – meet Chris Hornung, from the Visual and Performing Arts Department. From his love of Renaissance music to rap, Chris talks about what inspires his teaching and how his classes are an integral part of understanding different time periods and cultures. We hope you take notes on this music instructor.

Tell us about yourself.

I am a part-time music instructor and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts department.  The exciting classes I have the privilege of teaching include History and Appreciation of Music, History of Jazz, and History of Rock.  I have been at Coastline since 2017 and love it here! I studied music education at Western Michigan University and double bass performance at Michigan State University.  I held positions in the Lansing Symphony Orchestra and West Michigan Symphony and performed with many other orchestras while I was in school, and worked for a number of years as a freelance musician.

Moreover, I was a teaching assistant at Michigan State and taught many undergraduate lessons and technique classes.  I worked as a counselor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan and had the opportunity to teach bass and music history.  I currently return to Blue Lake every summer as a bass faculty member.  I teach bass sectional and technique classes, music history, and perform as part of the Festival Orchestra.  Once I moved to California, I started a studio where I offered private bass lessons to students and became a sectional coach at various high schools.

My love for music began at a young age. As a result, I began taking piano lessons when I was 6 and cello when I was 10.  Though I enjoyed these instruments, there was something about the upright bass that really spoke to me and became my passion. I switched to the bass when I was 12 and it has been my world ever since. Soon after, I began playing with a local youth orchestra which gave me the opportunity to perform great works by Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, and my all-time favorite Hector Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique.

Instructor Hornung after a concert

Why do you love working at Coastline?

I love working at Coastline because of the excellent faculty and students who I have the pleasure of working with everyday in the Art Department. My career with Coastline began when I was contacted to teach a History of Rock class as part of the STAR program in 2017.  This soon led to more music classes and chairing the visual arts department.

There is an enthusiasm for teaching and students, alike, that makes this a great place to work. For the last two years, I have enjoyed working with our students, who come from so many diverse backgrounds.  Music is a such a great way for people to connect and learn about other cultures, I see this happen in every class. 

Symphony concert, a man playing the cello, hand close up

What makes your classes unique?

Music of all types is all around us and such a big part of our everyday lives. I teach with the mentality that music is an integral part of many cultures throughout history.  By developing an understanding of the elements of music and its historical significance, students cannot only make listening to music a more enjoyable experience, but also gain a lot of insight into the lives of people from other times and places.

I begin my courses by having students discuss their own musical background and what they have enjoyed listening to in the past. We then examine the musical elements, and what to listen for. As we progress through the course and examine the music of different historical periods, students are able to better understand how different styles evolved, and the connection to their own personal musical preference. No matter what a person’s background is in music, it is likely that they have enjoyed it in one context or another.

Is it too late to sign up for a Music class in the Spring 2019 semester with Mr. Hornung?

NOT AT ALL. There are limited spots for the following two classes I am teaching, starting Monday, April 1, 2019:

  • Music 100 – History and Appreciation of Music
  • Music 139 – History of Rock

Music 100 – History and Appreciation of Music

Music 100 is an 8-week hybrid course, taught by Chris Hornung. In this exciting class, Instructor Hornung will travel through the history of music from the Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Classical, Romantic, and 20th-21st century periods. Over 8 weeks, this class aims to cover all genres of music along with historical events of these eras and examine how they impacted the music and musicians.

This hybrid course meets Thursday nights at Coastline’s Newport Beach Campus from 6:00 – 9:15 PM. The other portion of the class is completed online. This class will be having a Graded or Pass/No Pass option. Transfer Credit: CSU; UC

Search CRN 92401 in the Spring Schedule.

Music 139 – History of Rock

Music 139 is 100% online class, taught by Chris Hornung. This class offers a fresh outlook on the social and musical characteristics of music in the Rock and Roll era, 1950’s through the present, with emphasis on its impact on American culture today. This class will be having a Graded or Pass/No Pass option. Transfer Credit: CSU; UC.

Search CRN 93339 in the Spring Schedule.

What do most students not know about you?

Runners participating in the 2009 Boston Marathon

While music is my life, I am also an avid runner.  My dad runs,  and I began running with him when I was very young.  Though I was never great at other sports, I found that long-distance running was something I succeeded at.  I set my middle school’s 2-mile record and in high school, I ran cross country and track.  I continued after school and it has been an important part of my daily life ever since.   Running helps me maintain focus on my music and teaching career.  I have run 6 marathons, including The Boston Marathon, in 2009.  I hope to run it again someday!

Who is your favorite musician and why?

Since I was a kid, I have gone through many phases of musical fandom. When I was very young I discovered my parents’ cassette tapes, and came to enjoy the Beach Boys, Cat Stevens, Harry Chapin and others.  From Renaissance music to rap, there is little that I have not obsessed over at one time or another. I remember I was 13 when Nirvana’s videos hit MTV.  This changed everything for me, and my music collection from this time was dominated by the alternative bands of the mid 90s

In the classical world, I also love J.S. Bach, Claude Debussy, Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky, and George Gershwin, in the jazz world Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Charles Mingus and John Coltrane. If i switch to Rock and Pop, Woody Guthrie, Hank Williams Sr, Johnny Cash, Buddy Holly, Lou Reed, Frank Zappa, Sam Cooke, Marvin Gaye, The Wu-Tang Clan, Radiohead, and many others are on my playlist. I am currently in a Joni Mitchell phase.  Her music has so much depth and humanity, and rewards multiple listens.

Tips for Coastline students who are aspiring music majors.

For people looking for a career in music, my advice would be to never forget what made you decide to do so.  It is an intense, competitive world that can be overwhelming in many ways, and it is important to remember what it is about music that drew you in.  For those taking music courses and looking for a career elsewhere,  my hope is for my students to keep an open mind about music that may be new to them.  Experiencing music has the potential to connect us to others who we may not have otherwise, and this can be greatly beneficial in many careers.

About the Teacher Feature Series

Coastline College proudly highlights their renowned faculty through the Teacher Feature blog series. This week’s feature showcases Chris Hornung, Music Instructor and Chair of the Visual and Performing Arts Department. Feeling like Chris Hornung’s class would be a good fit for you? See her course offerings through our class schedule. Enroll today!

Read On