Performing Arts

For more information contact:

Brian Kaufman
Lead Faculty
Professor of English


QVCC is developing a performing arts major, and in the past few years has offered classes on acting, improvisation, dance, recording music, podcasting, guitar building, and guitar. Piano classes will be offered in the near future.

QVCC is offering Beginning Piano, Guitar I and Guitar II, and Guitar Building Classes in Spring 2023.

MUS* 148 Beginning Piano is a live on-ground class offering an introduction to the piano or the “keys.” No experience is necessary! Students will learn the piano keyboard and acquire the basic skills to read general musical notation. Additionally, students will learn how to play basic chords and scales, which can be used for basic improvisation or applied to easy playing arrangements of popular music. Students will also receive a foundation in music theory and appreciation as it relates to the piano. Many musical genres will be explored as students begin to perform a repertoire of beginning piano pieces with accuracy and musicality, playing along with the class ensemble and on their own. This course fulfills the Appreciation of the Aesthetic Dimension of Humankind TAP Competency for students matriculating in degree programs. The course is taught by Rhode Island-based Arleen Sherman, a longtime piano instructor who teaches at Berklee and privately. The 3-credit class runs 9 am to 12 noon on Friday mornings beginning January 20, 2023.

MUS* 141 Guitar I and MUS* 142 Guitar II is a combined class offered live and in-person at the college.  These classes deliver a foundation in guitar playing and musicianship. Guitar I is for students with no previous experience in the guitar or general music.  Literacy in guitar notation and tab reading, and an accurate sense of rhythm will be developed.  Students will learn techniques for strumming chords and playing melodies for folk, rock, pop, and ensemble playing. Guitar II is for students who have taken Guitar I or for students who have a basic understanding of the guitar but have not advanced beyond a beginning level. It’s a great time to pick up an instrument and start playing — or a time to get better at wielding the “axe.”  These courses are taught by Providence-based freelance musician Christopher Sadlers. The 3-credit classes runs 6:30 pm to 9:20 pm on Monday evenings beginning January 23, 2023.

MUS* 298 Guitar Building (also listed as ENG* 298 Guitar Building), is a course that looks at the design elements, manufacturing, and assembly of solid body electric guitars. Students build guitars while learning about the electronics, chemistry of finishes, math applications relevant to guitar design, and the concepts of sound waves, string tension, fretboard layout, intonation, and general musicality.  It’s a fun and involved course for any budding or veteran musician, for anyone interested in electronics, or for anyone who enjoys wood-working projects. The class is co-taught by musicians Jakob Spjut, Professor of Engineering Science, and Brian Kaufman, Professor of English. The 3-credit class runs 3:30 pm to 6:20 pm on Monday afternoons and evenings beginning January 23, 2023.

Arleen Sherman is a creative piano and special education music teacher who has worked in a wide variety of settings, both public and private. She currently is a piano, general music, and theater instructor for the Berklee Arleen Sherman Institute for Accessible Arts Education in Boston. There she worked with other consultants to design the school’s access-based educational curriculum. Previously she was a music instructor for the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School. She has a degree in Interdisciplinary Music Studies from Lesley University, and in 2018 graduated from the Boston Conservatory at Berklee with a graduate certificate in Music Education and Autism. Arleen has helped hundreds of students of all ages and music abilities develop musical talents on the hammer and strings of the piano.


Christopher Sadlers is a freelance musician, composer and music educator and has been teaching guitar and bass for more than 20 years. His eclectic style reveals his passion for all kinds of music including classical, jazz, Christopher Sadlers rock & roll, punk, traditional folk and more. He has toured with Alec K. Redfearn and the Eyesores, Death Vessel, Huntress and Holder of Hands, and Barnacled. He is also a regular guest bassist with Boston-based Metropolitan Wind Symphony Orchestra. Trained on the string bass with a music degree from Rhode Island College, Christopher teaches and performs on guitar, bass guitar, bouzouki, violin, and hurdy-gurdy. He draws on a wide body of musical knowledge for his classes and his engaging teaching style makes learning the guitar fun and interactive.


Jakob Spjut, Professor of Engineering Science, is an accomplished musician and composer, and is the music leader of QVCC’s lunchtime jams. Spjut began teaching guitar building in 2019 after studying the art and building his first electric guitar at an NSF-funded workshop at Fairfield University the previous summer. He has been running weekly lunchtime jam sessions at QVCC with students since fall 2014 in the fireside lounge, where sometimes he can be heard playing one of the guitars he has built himself. His most recent album, Autumnal Journey comes from completing a Songtober challenge, writing and recording a song every day in the month of October 2022. He is currently the Program Coordinator for the Engineering Science, Technology Studies, and Manufacturing programs, as well as the Campus Director for the NASA Connecticut Space Grant Consortium, and Site Representative at the statewide College of Technology.

O. Brian Kaufman, Professor of English, is lead faculty for the performing arts at QVCC, and was a co-founder and producer of QVCC’s Baugstock music festivals. When not learning to play the guitar and piano, he builds guitars in his garage. Kaufman grew up in Hollywood and was a longtime member of The Whimsey Works children’s theatrical ensemble. He later earned theater and broadcast journalism degrees, and then worked in the L.A. media before relocating to the east coast to earn a PhD in English composition at the University of Rhode Island. He has studied stand-up comedy at Flappers Comedy Club in Burbank, CA, and at John Perrotta’s Comedy Factory in Warwick, RI, and studied improv at The Second City in Chicago and in Rhode Island at the Providence Improv Guild and Pawtucket-based Kismet Improv.