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Can College Teach you Disco Sticks?

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I used to walk down the street like I was a star. I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be – and then to fight so hard for it that the lie becomes the truth.  — Lady Gaga

A few days ago I had a conversation with a guy that told me about his son.  His son was going to college to finish up his Ph.D  in music.  I was thinking about what a person with a Ph.D in music would do.  He told me that his son played a couple of instruments and composed music.  A typical path for a person with a Ph.D. in music would be academia.  In an academic environment his son could help other people get their Ph.D. in music.  And so the cycle would continue.

Last night Lady Gaga was a guest on the David Letterman Show.  Dave asked her if she finished high school.  She said she finished high school but didn’t finish college.  Dave asked her if she would consider going back to college.  She said, No.

Singer/Songwriter Gaga said that in her line of work she didn’t know how they could teach you how to ride Disco Sticks.  Dave agreed, “No, they really can’t.”  That was followed by laughter and applause.

Lady Gaga has won 5 Grammy Awards and sold 15 million albums.

If I told you the name of the man’s son who will soon have his Ph.D. and composes music you wouldn’t know his name.

Isn’t it curious.  Given these two paths – music Ph.D and rock star, it makes you wonder what music really is.  What is the path to mastery of “music”?  What is the demonstration of mastery?  Maybe music is something you can only experience – nothing you can think about in the context of academics – perhaps that is music in its diminished state.  If we think we understand music and how it rouses the emotions and how it works then why can’t we produce the greatest music on-demand?

That we can’t produce the next hit on-demand shows there is little understanding of music – even at the level of academics.  It takes people like Gaga, Jimi Hendrix, Angus Young, and the rest to create music – of near religious experience – that people want to hear, buy, and pay big money to attend concerts where it is performed live in the presence of tens of thousands of people.

The path to music by Gaga and the rest is far away from conceptual thought and rational analysis as embodied by academia and academics on their way to earning a Ph.D. in music.  Makes you wonder if a Ph.D in music is simply a demonstration of an inability or incapacity.  Rock stars don’t need Ph.D’s in music to create music that can sell 15 million albums.

“Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, teach.”  I suppose that must be true.

Resources

Often imitated; never duplicated

https://frrl.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/national-public-radio-npr-does-lady-gaga/
https://frrl.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/larry-king-does-lady-gaga/

Quotable Gaga – https://frrl.wordpress.com/2010/09/05/quotable-lady-gaga/

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Written by frrl

May 25, 2011 at 3:24 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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