Monday, January 31, 2011

Former Students

It is odd how ashamed musicians appear to be about having been through Higher Education.
The music industry has always had more than its fair share of nepotism, and the man who started up the first pop music course that I taught on deliberately intended to flood record companies and publishing houses with graduates who would then favour ex-students who followed the music production route as songwriters and artistes.
I am certain that this happens from the specialist music schools like the Brit School in Croydon, that teaches both business and production pathways, all the way through to University level.
Year ago, I taught Jamie Woon at the University of the West; I remember him as a talented and very nice student whose exceptional feature was his voice, which was reliably sweet across a very wide range.
I am proud to see that he is becoming very successful, but disappointed that he rarely mentions his three years at the University, where he met people who were involved in all sorts of different music to his own folk-influenced repertoire, and also learned a good deal about the way the business side of the industry works.

I suppose when I was a punk rocker back in the day, I was embarrassed to be teased by other punks about being a student- mostly, I have to say, the lead singer of my band Joby and the Hooligans! Steve, who played guitar in the band, seemed to be more annoyed about it than I did, but both of us used to have to take a lot of ribbing on the chin (or chinning on the ribs?).
I regarded switching to playing music as being a refuge from the finishing-school atmosphere of Brighton Art College at the time; any of us with regional accents were set apart by the other students so it was a huge relief to be embraced by the punk community, who were all outcasts of one sort or another.

One thing I am sure of is that I would not have got on to any of the music courses I teach on, which is a strange fact. So I suppose any of the students who are ashamed to have passed through the University music courses could always switch tracks and become punky artists instead!

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