That old adage that those who can’t, teach? It does not apply to Patrice Rushen. She can, and she does. She’s topped the pop charts with a hit single, worked as an elite studio musician, and led her peers as one of the only female musical directors on television. She is a true talent and students in the Division of Contemporary Music are the better for it.
In this video feature, Rushen describes her childhood near the USC campus in South L.A., the early role models who defined the well-rounded musician she hoped to be, and the comprehensive vision for music education she shares with the faculty of the Division of Contemporary Music.
“The emphasis there is on excellence as opposed to competition,” she says. “It is on collaboration, it is on learning, it is on sharing, and it is all of these things that lift the entire school of music up.”
She and her fellow faculty call the division “the sandbox,” because everything her students experience pushes them to dig and explore even deeper. “They walk in wide open,” Rushen says, “and they come out very, very, very prepared for a professional life in music.”