When Dr Ian Chapman studied for his music degree he never thought he’d see the day when Otago would be offering rock music — or that he would be teaching it.
Following the success of the contemporary music course, Otago has combined music, theatre and dance in a Bachelor of Performing Arts degree championed by Ian and Theatre Studies’ Dr Suzanne Little.
“We’re catering for students who want to be actively involved with more than one discipline, while still giving them a grounding in specialised skills,” says Ian. “This is the degree that I would have taken if it had been available.”
After a productive career as a drummer, guitarist and vocalist, Ian was invited to teach contemporary music. While lecturing and working on his own master’s and PhD, he continued to perform as alter ego Dr Glam, proving to students that tutors didn’t just talk the talk.
“Just because we lecture doesn’t mean we don’t walk the walk. Most of my music, theatre and dance colleagues are excellent practitioners.”
Who is the degree for and how is it put together?
“We’re attracting people who are interested in performing across the disciplines, but we’re not a Glee training ground or Fame school. We’re teaching the three disciplines and how they interact. What students turn their skills to then is up to them, and music theatre is certainly one option.
“Students may specialise in one performing art while getting an awareness of the other two. And as well as working on the physical skills of performing, we are developing critical thinking and looking at theory — the whys and wherefores of the performing arts.
“This is my dream job.”