how much do music professors know about pop music?

Universities have professors who have studied classical music all their lives, knowing lots of music theory and history. But if I'm interested in playing rock n roll piano and want to have jam sessions with friends can the music academian still provide guidance for us? I've taken a year of piano weekly when I was 13 and I still enjoy finding sheet music to play but I don't play on the same level without formal instruction.

How much do music professors know and appreciate pop music anyways? I'm thinking along the lines of classic rock, some 80s new wave, disco...

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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The claim that music professors study classical music all their lives is a mighty wild one. How many music professors do you know? They come in varied forms, and ZERO have studied only classical music.

    Classical is a very small portion of music, do you really believe every employed music *academic*, during their 10 plus years in university, would have only studied the very short classical era? The classical era was only around 100 years long. I know people older than that!

    The big question is, why do so many people believe academics are just nerdy sweater-vest-wearing stuffs who have never had a good time? Academics, are no different than any other person. Some like to skateboard, smoke drugs, and play Blues like the rest of us.

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    *edit*

    "Think about it - if those prof's were so good why aren't they playing full time? Why are they teaching?"

    Of course they are teaching! You don't get an advanced degree to *play* music, you do it to *teach*. You do it to learn more about music. To learn things that you cannot simply make up. Do you not realize there are other aspects of music besides the act of playing?

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    "Where is there body of work that is being performed?"

    Who exactly are you referring to? The entire music academic population? In that case, I would say their body of work is immense. CDs are not publications, any schmo with $500 can make and peddle a CD. It takes real effort and talent to complete an advanced degree.

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    "You'd be better off saving your money and getting a group together that sounds good and can get booked."

    Well hell, if it is as easy as simply "getting a group together that sounds good and can get booked," I think I should just quit school while I'm ahead! ...which would be foolish because I'm a biologist.

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    "You can study on your own and actually get payed to put it into action at bars and stages."

    I partly agree. However, getting paid requires rhetoric skills, which can be quickly taught and practiced in a school setting. In fact, most aspects of music life that lie outside the act of playing can be quickly taught in a school setting, and can be time-costly when trying to go-it-alone. Financial, legal, ethical, etc., aspects that are just as integral to the music-life as actually physically playing music.

    Playing music is a very small part of a music performance life, and the other very large portions can easily and quickly be taught in a classroom.

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    "I've thought long and hard about going to music school but NONE of my friends who have are playing full time. Hell, most of them just quit actually."

    Your evidence is purely anecdotal, which isn't a good thing.

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  • 8 years ago

    Most have probably been in a band. Music professors are more interested in music theory, communications of sounds in written form, time and various instruments rather than trying to teach people a sound style that's going to be outdated once the student graduates. These students end up finding pop music easy because it's usually 4/4 time with three or four instruments and the music in the songs are repetitive.

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  • ?
    Lv 4
    8 years ago

    The one thing I've learned in 16 years of playing - is that you can only learn by doing. Books help get the inital theory, but to make the instrument really sing requires going out and playing to the public.

    Think about it - if those prof's were so good why aren't they playing full time? Why are they teaching? Where is there body of work that is being performed? You'd be better off saving your money and getting a group together that sounds good and can get booked. You can study on your own and actually get payed to put it into action at bars and stages. I've thought long and hard about going to music school but NONE of my friends who have are playing full time. Hell, most of them just quit actually.

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  • 8 years ago

    it depends on the school, but from my experiences a college professor is there because they know a great deal about all kinds of music. I have had professors who have simultaneously taught Hip Hop and Gregorian Chant. I'd contact the department heads at your desired schools and they can tell you if there is anyone in the department who shares your taste in music. good luck

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  • 8 years ago

    Most Music Professors study and appreciate all kinds of music and could most likely help you.

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  • 8 years ago

    Miles really nailed it, especially in his "edit" section.

    The better four-year music universities are not stuck in the old ways. Most of them are hiring adjunct faculty from national touring acts and major labels. (Look in the back of any recent issue of Downbeat for ads from schools showing who teaches there.) The school I attended was well-known for its "legit" music program as well as for its jazz program. I had the opportunity to study with national-act players and producers.

    MY friends from music school ARE playing full-time, teaching, writing music for TV, and touring in national acts. Studying hard with good teachers and practicing your a## off is most definitely a productive path.

    However, there's no guaranteed path to success in music. It helps to be a competent musician - the formal study and hard work helps out a lot there. But you also have to work hard at creating your own unique act and getting attention focused on it. That is hard work too. There are plenty of folks who have done all that and are still not "stars" while there are plenty of "stars" that are terrible musicians and mediocre performers. (The classic case of sounding great in the studio and sucking when performing live.) So ... there's also a certain aspect of luck involved, too.

    Getting back to your original question, many of today's music faculty members are very VERY competent, well-known, and commercially successful.

    Source(s): Did you know that Sheryl Crow used to be an elementary school music teacher?
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  • Anonymous
    8 years ago

    depends on the professor, doesn't it?

    but your details seem to ask a different question. you're used to reading sheet music and are struggling to improvise using chord progressions? it is a fairly common problem for people who classically trained when they first start making the switch to playing in small groups. relax, have fun, and practice.

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  • PAULH
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    I don't have direct experience, but occasionally I get to play with music post grads from the local university. They play all types of music and are GOOD!

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