Teaching Popular Music in Institutions of Higher Learning
A talk by Patrice Rushen of the USC Thornton School of Music
The Music Department’s “New Perspective in American Music” lecture series concludes with “Teaching Popular Music in Institutions of Higher Learning,” a talk by Patrice Rushen, chair of popular music at the USC Thornton School of Music, at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, April 10, 2017 at the Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Frost Library, Amherst College.
Drawing on her unusually broad career as a composer and performer, ranging from pop and R&B to jazz, symphonic music and film scoring, Rushen reflects on the acquisition of skills for the creation of popular music and how they can be effectively taught in an academic program. With reference to and examples from the trajectory of her own creative life, Rushen recounts the evolution of her teaching approaches, and her participation in the founding of a new teaching institute in this relatively young area of academic study.
Patrice Rushen is an award-winning musician and composer who is also one of the most sought after artists in the music industry. She is a classically trained pianist who originally found success in the 70’s and 80’s with her signature fusion of jazz, pop and R&B. During this era, she composed and recorded the hit song, “Forget Me Nots,” which has been frequently covered and sampled by other artists. Rushen is also a four-time Grammy nominee who has composed scores for movies and television. She has been the first female musical director for many of the entertainment industry’s top award shows, which include the Grammy Awards, the Emmy Awards, the People’s Choice Awards, the NAACP Image Awards and HBO’s “Comic Relief V.” Considered one of the world’s top jazz pianists, she has performed with and produced for such esteemed artists as Stevie Wonder, Herbie Hancock, Prince, Nancy Wilson, Sheena Easton, Carlos Santana and Freddie Hubbard. She is an award-winning composer of symphonic music, some of which was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Rushen received an Honorary Doctorate of Music degree in 2005, from Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music for her “outstanding contribution to music and culture” where she is also the ambassador for artistry in education. Most recently, she has been appointed chair of popular music at the USC Thornton School of Music.