Popular Music

Overview

Hailed by Rolling Stone as “the cutting-edge department that’s become the site of Los Angeles’ most productive new music scenes,” the Popular Music Program at the USC Thornton School of Music is a unique music degree program for the rock, pop, R&B, folk, Latin and country artist. The program addresses the dynamic and changing landscape of the music profession, serving the needs of musicians who do not fit the traditional classical and jazz offerings that are typical in most university music programs.

The Popular Music Program at USC is an immersion into a creative environment that stresses the musical skills required for the successful, professional 21st century musician. Classes emphasize the respect for traditions, techniques and nuances of feel and groove through the examination of the various eras and forms of popular music repertoire. Students collaborate in small performance group settings, while simultaneously addressing their particular area of interest via private lessons. Career aspects — including performance, songwriting and arranging, recording studio efficiency, music production, and entrepreneurship — are also taught.

We offer to our students the idea that the values of musical skills, artistic aesthetics and commercial sensibilities are not mutually exclusive.

Patrice Rushen
Chair, Popular Music Program

Chris Sampson
Founding Director, Popular Music Program

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Spotlights

event calendar

Upcoming events

  • Popular Music: First-Year Showcase

    Led by professors Andy Abad and Patrice Rushen, first-year Popular Music program students explore the foundations of their craft in this showcase event. POPULAR MUSIC SHOWCASES: First Year - Wed., Feb. 28 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Mar. 2 at 8PM - Carson Center First Year - Wed., Apr. 25 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Apr. 27 at 8PM - Carson Center Third Year - Sat., Apr. 28 at 7:30PM - Carson Center Senior Showcase - TBD

    Tommy's Place (TCC)

  • Popular Music: Second-Year Showcase

    Sean Holt leads second-year Popular Music students in this showcase, focusing on stylistic nuance, groove, and ensemble technique. POPULAR MUSIC SHOWCASES: First Year - Wed., Feb. 28 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Mar. 2 at 8PM - Carson Center First Year - Wed., Apr. 25 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Apr. 27 at 8PM - Carson Center Third Year - Sat., Apr. 28 at 7:30PM - Carson Center Senior Showcase - TBD

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Popular Music: Senior Showcase

    Catch the rising stars of USC Thornton’s Popular Music program as the senior class performs at L.A.’s legendary El Rey Theatre. After years at the storied Troubadour in West Hollywood, the popularity of the annual event required a move across town to a larger venue. More than just a culmination of four years of hard work, the Senior Showcase is an opportunity for the entire community to celebrate these extraordinary young artists as they embark on professional music careers. All Ages A free RSVP is required for this event: https://music.usc.edu/popshowcase

    El Rey Theatre • 5515 Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles

  • Pop String Ensemble

    USC Thornton’s new Pop String Ensemble presents original compositions and arrangements in a variety of popular genres.

    The Songwriter’s Theater

  • Popular Music: First-Year Showcase

    Led by professors Andy Abad and Patrice Rushen, first-year Popular Music program students explore the foundations of their craft in this showcase event. POPULAR MUSIC SHOWCASES: First Year - Wed., Feb. 28 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Mar. 2 at 8PM - Carson Center First Year - Wed., Apr. 25 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Apr. 27 at 8PM - Carson Center Third Year - Sat., Apr. 28 at 7:30PM - Carson Center Senior Showcase - TBD

    Tommy's Place (TCC)

  • Popular Music: Second-Year Showcase

    Sean Holt leads second-year Popular Music students in this showcase, focusing on stylistic nuance, groove, and ensemble technique. POPULAR MUSIC SHOWCASES: First Year - Wed., Feb. 28 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Mar. 2 at 8PM - Carson Center First Year - Wed., Apr. 25 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Apr. 27 at 8PM - Carson Center Third Year - Sat., Apr. 28 at 7:30PM - Carson Center Senior Showcase - TBD

    Carson Center (CTV)

  • Popular Music: Third-Year Showcase

    Third-year Popular Music students present original music written, arranged, and performed under the direction of professors Patrice Rushen and Richard Smith. POPULAR MUSIC SHOWCASES: First Year - Wed., Feb. 28 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Mar. 2 at 8PM - Carson Center First Year - Wed., Apr. 25 at 8PM - Tommy's Place Second Year - Fri., Apr. 27 at 8PM - Carson Center Third Year - Sat., Apr. 28 at 7:30PM - Carson Center Senior Showcase - TBD

    Carson Center (CTV)


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    March 6th memorial service for Ndugu Chancler

    February 15, 2018

    A funeral service has been announced for Ndugu Chancler, who passed away on February 3rd at the age of 65 after a battle with cancer. Memorial for Ndugu Chancler Tuesday, March 6, 2018 at 11:00AM Faithful Central Bible Church in the Tabernacle building (Map) 321 N. Eucalyptus Avenue Inglewood, CA…

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