By Shannon Bedell
EWU music students explore the popular music genre through the recent addition of the Pop Music Forum, connecting students with various artists, including those involved with Prince, KC and the Sunshine Band.
Beginning the second week of winter quarter, the EWU Music Department added a new weekly event, the Pop Music Forum, open to all students who want to explore the pop music genre. The weekly event utilizes Skype to video chat with artists throughout the world.
On Feb. 5, students engaged in a Q-and-A session with Dr. Jonathan Patterson, known by the music identity, Capital. Patterson shared his perspective on finding his identity in the music world and shared many tips with the students attending.
Some of Patterson’s advice included always being nice to others because people are more likely to get a gig or an opportunity from friends. He also told students to never say “No.”
Phil Doyle, lecturer in music and saxophone, explained this event was really a product of Eastern Music Department Chair Dr. Sheila Woodward’s forward thinking and exploration of all types of music.
“Pop music is one of the most relevant art forms in terms of reach. Of the majority, most [pop artists] have access to hundreds of thousands of people, so in that sense it’s very powerful,” said Doyle.
Doyle explained that it is important for Eastern students to be armed with the knowledge to decipher between good and bad pop music while also developing their own personalities so that they can figure out where they fit in the industry.
The forum on Feb. 5 emphasized the importance of being a diverse artist. Patterson talked about not only working in the music industry, but also those jobs that got him by, including working for The Princeton Review and other various non-musical jobs.
“If you want to be a professional musician, you can, and it’s not just about luck and things like that, but how do you get your income or make a career in music is incredibly personal. You have to be flexible to flow into all kinds of [jobs] in totally different activities, sometimes non-musical,” said Patterson.
The forum wanted to emphasize connecting students to speakers with experience in the industry along with having unique vantage points. The use of Skype in the music department has opened up the possibility of talking and performing with artists from all over the world.
“Last year we had a jazz festival and brought artists in from Iceland and University of Illinois via the internet to play in front of 900 high school and middle school students,” said Doyle.
Not only was the department able to have these artists playing for them live from thousands of miles away, but Woodward explained that they were able to utilize technology in which these artists were able to all play together, with an artist on the stage in Cheney playing along with performers in Iceland or Illinois.
The Pop Music Forum will continue to be hosted weekly through the rest of the year and will continue in the fall.