Many people set their sights on becoming lifelong learners,
but what does that phrase mean, exactly? Does it describe
avid readers? Someone who prefers the History Channel over
A more clear-cut example of lifelong learners are Memphis
residents Dr. Edward and Linda Kaplan, who found life more
enjoyable after they decided to audit music classes at the
University of Memphis.
and Linda Kaplan enjoy the vast resources the U of M offers,
such as the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music's extensive
Ed, a recently retired neurosurgeon, and Linda, a civic volunteer
for Memphis Symphony Orchestra, always had a great love of
music. But they say they felt more like passive listeners
when attending concerts. A friendship with Rudi and Honey
Scheidt, whose multimillion dollar gift supports the school,
was another reason to give the School of Music a try.
"We took an even greater interest in the school because
it had become personalized," Linda says. "Also,
Ed retired about a year ago, and we had time on our hands
together for the first time."
The Kaplans' intention to start with just one class
didn't quite go as planned.
"We couldn't decide among the really great courses,
so we ended up taking three," Linda says. So for the
Fall 2002 semester, the Kaplans audited music history, music
appreciation and music theory. Allen Rippe, assistant professor
of music, says the couple added much to the class discussions.
More importantly, he says, they have found a new way to express
their appreciation and support for music.
"I dare say that music in this community was put together
by people like the Kaplans," Rippe says. "Ed and
a lot of physicians are supporters of the arts, and they play
a vital role in keeping the arts alive in Memphis."
The Kaplans say their U of M experience was reminiscent of
the campus life they lived years ago. "We had to get
up early in the morning and get a parking place like everyone
else," Linda says. Ed notes a distinct advantage this
time around no final exams. He says he found the professors
intensely interesting and the experience worthwhile.
Likewise, University professors say the Kaplans were an enjoyable
addition to class.
"Ed and Linda were a wonderful example of how art and
music enriches the lives of people who open up themselves
to it, even if they are professionals in other areas,"
says Mona Kreitner, adjunct professor of music.
The School of Music indeed has much to offer, and the Kaplans
are aware that they've only scratched the surface. The
school has faculty gems such as composer Kamran Ince, guitarist
Lily Afshar and Grammy winner David Evans, as well as dozens
of talented vocal and instrumental students.
Moreover, the Kaplans say the school's friendliness and openness
were big draws.
Audit You Won't Mind Getting
word "audit" has gotten a bad reputation.
To be fair, no one wants an audit at least
not the kind that the IRS gives. But an audit
at the University of Memphis can mean something
Moling, assistant registrar at the U of M, says
there are two basic requirements for senior citizens
who wish to audit a course at the University.
They must be residents of Tennessee, and they
must be at least 60 years old. There are no other
have a number of people who have no college experience,
and we have a number of people with advanced degrees,"Moling
says. Although history and literature classes
are the most popular, seniors have sampled courses
across the campus.
classes won't earn you college credit, but it
will earn you a new wealth of knowledge. Courses
are subject to availability. For more information,
contact the Registrar's Office at 901/678-2810.
"It's kind of an oasis on campus," Linda says. "It's a thing
The Kaplans truly caught school fever. Not limiting themselves
to class attendance, they often returned to campus in the
evenings for concerts and faculty recitals. Having a wide
palette for the arts, they also saw the Theatre Department's
production of Into The Woods and a performance by the
There was an inconvenience at the U of M, but it was one
the Kaplans were able to address and correct. They often had
to switch rooms during their classes due to a shortage of
audio and video equipment. As a result, some creative juggling
of that equipment was an unfortunate necessity. But with a
modest gift, the Kaplans bought some much-needed equipment
that ended the room-swapping.
Ed says the school is more than deserving of his support.
"It's not a hidden treasure, but the community doesn't appreciate
what it has here," he says. "I really appreciate what I've
learned. I feel like I got so much out of these classes."
The Kaplans are accustomed to quality universities
Ed graduated from Yale; Linda, from Smith College and
say their U of M classes have provided just as many rich learning
experiences. Ed says degree-seeking students often get caught
up in focusing on what they have to take, rather than what
they want to take. Now they can pursue additional extracurricular
As they continue on their journey as lifelong learners, the
Kaplans are starting to mull over their options. They consider
the School of Music the entry way to their U of M interaction,
but they are interested in exploring other areas of campus
Linda says the next stop might be an English class. Or maybe
the couple will take a history course. Like the proverbial
kid in the candy store, the Kaplans are assured a smorgasbord
of academic options at the
U of M.
"The School of Music was the most welcome place to start,"
Linda says. "Where we will go next, we don't know."