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Oct 24, 2013

Making music

Visiting Artist Phil Vassar gives students a lesson on loving music and life.
By Courtney Herb (’15)

Phil Vassar teaches master class at JMU
JMU students get advice on breaking into the music industry during country music artist Phil Vassar's master class.

Many performers live the Shakespearean phrase that “all the world’s a stage.” For students in JMU’s College of Visual and Performing Arts, JMU provides a stage full of legendary opportunity.

As part of JMU’s Family Weekend, the Forbes Center presented alumnus Phil Vassar and his band playing their signature country hits.

Phil Vassar’s visit to campus went beyond entertainment. During a master class Vassar gave students a unique learning opportunity with the added bonus of hearing wisdom from a fellow Duke. The class was open to all majors, and participants asked questions about topics ranging from his experience breaking into the music industry to his advice on how to get the creative juices flowing.

“A song has to evoke something – whether it’s happy or sad,” said Vassar about his song writing process that has resulted in several chart-topping hits. “If you capture it, that’s all it is.”

Vassar also spoke of how valuable his Madison experience was and continues to be. “I want to be back in school!” joked the performer when asked about his time at JMU. “College is more about the relationships you build and the people you meet. I’m still friends with my fraternity brothers to this day.”

Students who took part in the event appreciated Vassar’s knowledge of the industry and his willingness to help students who currently sit in the same place he did at one time. “It was really informative,” said Megan Hendrix, a sophomore music major who attended the master class. “It was awesome to hear from someone who has been through it all already.”

Students felt the opportunity was another invaluable part of a one-of-a-kind education. “Knowing that I attend a school that cares so much about my education and overall experience means the world to me,” said Bianchi. “I will remember it for the rest of my life, and it is even more meaningful that it happened at the school I already love so much.”