Why Music Education Matters? Interview with Dr. Mark Pipes Rock Dojo Online Guitar Lessons for Kids

Why Does Music Education Matter?

What are the most important musical skills every student should focus on developing? Why are scales so important for musicians? And why should we care about music education at all? These are just some of the questions Dr. Mark Pipes and I discuss during a forty-minute Zoom interview.

Who Is Dr. Pipes?

Dr. Pipes is a sought after music educator and musician. He’s coached musicians at the middle school, high school, and college-levels for more than 20 years. Many of his former students have gone on to win major competitions such as the Rock Mountain Solo Competition and the Oregon State Solo Championship.

Dr. Pipes holds a Doctor of Arts in Music from the University of Northern Colorado with an emphasis in saxophone pedagogy and a secondary emphasis in jazz.

In the classroom, Dr. Pipes has taught courses on Music History at Aims Community College, Music Theory at Linn-Benton Community College, and Jazz Improvisation at Union High School. 
You can learn more about Dr. Mark Pipes at MarkPipes.com

Before We Dive In, Check Out Some of the Other Interviews

This is part of a series of interviews I have been doing with Portland’s top music educators. If you’re new to this series, I recommend watching my interview with J. Stuart Fessant and learn 5 Practical Tips for Integrating Music Education into Your Homeschooling Routine.

The Full Interview Transcript

Brian Parham 0:00
Hi and welcome. I’m so excited. I’m meeting today with Dr. Mark pipes. Well, so I want to say how I met, we were shooting the Rock Dojo e-course. And it was felt so incredibly grateful and blessed to have somebody with your musical experience. Being part of that film shoot. I’m so so excited to have you today. And for those that don’t know, my name is Brian Parham. I’m the Guitar Sensei, founder of the Rock Dojo, and I’m sitting down with Mark Pipes. Mark, thank you so much for meeting with me today.

Dr. Mark Pipes 0:38
Yeah, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me. You know, we had such a great time on that shoot, you know, first, we had to go find some dojos. I’ll just give a little background. So we, we shuffled around Portland during the pandemic, looking at dojos. And then we found that particular guy, we call them master Dan. And he’s amazing. And we just had a great time. It was cold in that building, though, wasn’t it? It was really, really cool.

Brian Parham 1:03
I guess we should give him a shout out super, super shout out to Grandmaster Dan, with a Taekwondo studio studio down in Hollywood. Man, that was an incredible look, location and give a shout out as well to GMS who did an incredible job on the the Rock Dojo e-course, which is coming very, very soon. I’m so excited. So anyways, Mark, please tell us how did you get started with music?

Dr. Mark Pipes 1:30
Oh, my goodness, well, that’s gonna take way too long. But, you know, my mother was a choir director. And so I didn’t have a choice. I always sang in church choir. And then even as teenagers, my brother and I were probably the only boys in choir at first. But then we found that to our advantage, it was like, you know, shooting fish in a barrel, finding a girlfriend.

So we, I sang in choir through through high school. And, and then I also sang a little bit in, in college when they were going to go to Europe. And I was like, I’d like to go to Europe. So I joined choir that year. But I picked up saxophone along the way.

I started on a clarinet was terrible at it switched over to, to saxophone. What happened is that I heard a boy play in eighth grade, that and he was amazing. I’m sorry, I was in seventh grade, he was an eighth grader. And I thought he was amazing. And that really inspired me. And then when I went to high school, I sat next to him and he became my mentor. And he would take me to jam sessions. And this is in Delaware, and Wilmington, and then we drive up to Philly would be the only two white kids in the place. And like, it was just, it was an amazing experience. And it was so great to have that that mentorship. And of course, he still His name is Rick Hirsch. He’s still an arranger and performer and great musician today. And still, it’s still a great mentor, and friend. And so for me, it was all about mentorship and all about meeting people. And just having more and more mentors along the way. I studied with Peter hill at University of Delaware. And then I, I really lucked out. And I somehow got into Frederick Hemke’s studio to do my master’s at Northwestern. And, and that was a great experience. I was like, I felt like the worst player when I got there of the, like 30 people that were there. And I probably was including the freshmen.

So I just practiced, I practice like six to eight hours a day, I just practice, practice, practice the music building for Northwestern, it’s on Lake Michigan. So you just look through a window and you see like the frozen lake. And so that’s what you do all winter is just that they’re practicing scales. So then I i’ve been for the past 30 years been a saxophonist a teacher, done a bunch of other things I love. I love learning about things. So I’ve I’ve gone and done some other gigs as well. So thanks for having me happy to chat about chat with you about music chat about teaching, and let’s get at it.

Brian Parham 3:59
Well, that’s amazing. You know, one of the things that you mentioned that really resonated with me was Well, two things really. First, you talked about the choir, and I actually started singing, and I’m the worst voice ever. I mean, I’m absolutely horrible singer. But I started taking singing lessons with Anne Weiss, who does a singing for the vocally challenge. And wow, the way that singing opens up your musical ear even if you don’t want to be a singer. So that’s one of the things that you know how fortunate and lucky that you were to be part of a choir program. But for those people that don’t know, I, you know, your ability to play musical instrument is directly related to your ability to hear pitch and to hear rhythm. And so you know, in my personal experience, there’s no better way to improve your ability to hear pitch than singing because you start to feel those pitches in your body. It’s a great way to learn your intervals. And once you have that advantage, wow. It’s such a huge leg up. So that’s amazing.

Unknown Speaker 4:59
And the other thing that you mentioned community. And that’s one of my, my, my biggest, I guess, advocacy issues is, you know, creating a community around music education. And you were so fortunate. You said you met an eighth grader when you were in seventh grade that reminds me of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. I mean, here’s two of the world’s best guitar players. And it was almost the exact situation I think Joe Satriani was like 14. And Steve, I was 12.

Dr. Mark Pipes 5:28
And just imagine that combination. It’s incredible.

Brian Parham 5:33
It’s incredible. And that’s the thing is like, before I started teaching, and before I learned to musicology instrument cuz I came to music super late. I was like everybody else, I thought that it was about talent. And certainly talent is there is a part of it. But I think more important is being part of that community and having those resources and it sounds like you had an amazing program that you went through, in addition to having that that mentor who is in eighth grade, and helping you walk through the steps.

Dr. Mark Pipes 6:00
For sure. I like to talk about, you know, effort, constantly beating talent. It’s funny, I’ve actually taught in an elementary program called Little Mozart’s but I like to use Mozart as an example of what people think is true. But what is actually not true. People think that Mozart just popped out of his mother and could play all that stuff and do all this stuff. That’s not true. He was very much coached by his father, kind of like Tiger Woods, like a super young age. And we might even think of it as child abuse nowadays, where he was just kind of like, constantly hammered over and over and over. And he actually didn’t develop well. But anyway, what the point is that? Yes, there is most people I haven’t met that many people who are tone deaf in, in trying to teach music. I’ve certainly sung with a couple of people that were like, I brought a couple of my friends acquire an error, like, in the background, that’s like, okay, yeah, you can’t hear pitch.

But that’s almost that’s that’s like the exception to the rule. Most people can hear pitch. And I’ve heard a bunch of people, actually, one of the one of my co workers at GMS. He said, Do you think I’m tone deaf? And I said, No, you can, you can hum a tune, you just are out of practice. And so a lot of people think, Oh, I can’t do this. Well, I mean, you also can’t throw a major league pitch right now. But that doesn’t mean, if you didn’t practice, you couldn’t throw really well. You know?

Brian Parham 7:28
Excellent point. Absolutely. Excellent. And, you know, I guess this brings me to the next question, but you you’ve already touched on so much of this is, can you tell us about your philosophy as a music educator?

Dr. Mark Pipes 7:42
Sure. And what’s really cool for me is I did the doctorate A few years ago, which I you know, I love learning. And every time I take a new class in either how to teach saxophone, or how to teach music, or even the psychology of learning, you know, these, this kind of turns your philosophy in different ways.

They get immediate feedback, we challenge them, we help them out. And that’s the most effective, the quickest way for them to learn something. It’s that zone of development for them that is the highest.

And then number two students have every student has their own strengths and weaknesses. And I’m not talking about that silly like learning styles thing that is is a myth. What I’m talking about is students have, like, a great ability to transcribe or some students are great at technique, or some students really like practicing or some students really like noodling, or some students really like playing stuff they heard on TV, I don’t know you know what I’m talking about. Every student is a little bit different. But every student has a blaring weakness as well, right? That doesn’t mean they have talent or ability or something.

It just means some students have found something that they’re good at. Because they’re good at it, the self efficacy, this, this, this, their feeling of self worth elevates, because they think, Oh, I can do this, and it’s good. I’m gonna keep doing this, and it makes them motivated to keep doing the thing. So, and in lessons, as you know, you got, you got to be like, Okay, let’s do the things you feel good. Okay, let’s go over here and do the challenge so we can work on something that’s going to really help you. And then of course, we have to find that balance of for each student, because it’s different for everyone. How much can we challenge during this lesson? Or during the set of lessons? And then how much do we help them feel good with stuff they already know how to do?

A nd I think I think inside of that is the problem of I know, when I first took piano lessons, it was it was with you know, here I am in my late 40s. I call it the old school, like when you’re like, if your palms were too low, they poke you with a pencil to keep your palms up, like, yeah, we don’t do that with students anymore, right? Like we don’t. We’re very, we’re very kind and very nurturing and everything. But what happened, what happened, what we found is that students started to feel this perfectionism develop, and we still find it even when even when we’re totally It comes with from within, even when we’re totally positive, at least as much as we can be, they start to look for perfect. And I break that or break through that by saying, hey, let’s sound bad, right now, what can we do that would sound really bad. Let’s do something that sounds terrible. Let’s do the thing that we shouldn’t do. So like, I teach saxophone. So let’s make a really loud sound. Let’s like let’s let’s work on for me, let’s work on overtones, we play the saxophone, like a bugle, because it sounds incredibly bad. But it also works on certain skills.

And to do that, if you know how to make a bad sound, then you’re you’re exploring that envelope of skill development of if you’re going to sound good, you’ve got to know where that line is between good and bad. And by the way, it’s an art form. So some of that is a blurry line, right?

The way to find a way to kind of beat that, Oh, I didn’t do it perfectly. So I don’t want to do anything I’m going to close into myself, and I don’t want to ever perform for anyone is and let’s just make bad sounds. Let’s just make it let’s just have fun with it. So I’d like to do that. I like to make sure that they know that whatever they do. It’s It’s It’s appreciated. And it’s it’s met with this, this developmental like energy like okay, let’s just do it.

Brian Parham 12:54
Wow, I have to say, Oh, sorry. Oh, no, I just wanted to say you you’ve given me so many there you said touched on so many things that resonated. The first being you know about the challenge and how students are naturally drawn to challenge and it’s funny because as a guitar instructor, perhaps you know, the first day a student comes in is like, I want to learn Stairway to Heaven. It’s like, okay, there’s a little bit more that goes like saying, like, you know, I want to I want to run in the Olympics right now, but I’ve never run before, you know?

Dr. Mark Pipes 13:23
Right in the saxophone world. It’s the it’s the too many zoos guy what’s that guy’s name the Barry sax player, I can’t remember his name off top my head but he’s he’s pretty well known right now. And he plays great. And, and every every Barry sax player, like dyes their hair red now or orange, and wants to be that guy. And I’m like, well, slap tonguing is not what we’re gonna start with.

Brian Parham 13:46
There’s just so much. And then you talked about the second point that you made was about strengths and weaknesses. And I can as a, from a personal level, you know, we talked about we talked about singing before, you know, I, I experienced this myself, as a musician starting, you know, I picked up the guitar, like 28 years old, and I actually had no clue that pitches went up and down. I did it. It took me five years before I realized that pitches actually went from low to high. And but I but I was really, really, really good at music theory. music theory was like, wishes came so easy to me. And so you know, one of the things that’s fascinating and it goes back to what you were saying is, what maybe some people may not realize is you can actually turn your biggest challenge into your biggest strength. So I personally worked on pitch that’s right through as I mentioned, singing with the vocally challenge within waves. And now my biggest weakness, something that took me five or six years to improve is actually my best strength. Now I have this incredible melodicism I can sit down and improvise, and my improvise is a full composition where you know, Melody with question answered, you know, all those things on the spot in real time because I didn’t focus on the things

That came super easy to me, which was music theory, I actually focused on the thing that came the hardest to me. And that was ability to hear pitch. And the number one thing that I still work on and related to the ability to hear pitch is, of course, your melodicism. That’s the end goal is as an improviser, I want to be able to create compelling and moving melodies on the spot. And you can’t do that unless you have a really good, you know, idea of, you know, okay, where’s this note? resolve that? Okay, you know, you got to hear that in real time. Um, so,

Dr. Mark Pipes 15:31
have you noticed that? Have you noticed the stuff you’ve had to work on the hardest is the easiest to teach? Have you noticed that?

Brian Parham 15:37
Oh, that’s really interesting.

Dr. Mark Pipes 15:40
Because you know, all those little steps. And when your student starts to show, you’re like, I was there, I know what that is. I’m gonna help you with that, man.

Brian Parham 15:46
You know, there’s so many amazing things. I’m just so grateful. Because honestly, I feel like I’m learning so much from you right now as an educator. And the third point that you made is like breaking through the need to be perfect. And this is something as somebody as an educator who teaches improvisation, you know, with the guitar, you learn a few basic shapes. And if you learn, you know, the minor pentatonic scale and pattern number one, you can improvise immediately and begin to write your own riffs. But often, especially when you deal with like, students who are in your teen, teen teenage, you know, I mean, you can see, you know, that this need to be perfect. And that’s right here that paralyzes them. And, you know, just like, it’s like seeing somebody at the top of a diving board that doesn’t want to dip into the water because they’re afraid, you know, so I love the way that you that you turn that challenge into an opportunity for growth by pushing the envelope and forcing them to sound bad. I mean, that’s brilliant, you know?

Dr. Mark Pipes 16:46
So I have students right now, who will put themselves on mute, and practice for a second and then unmute themselves and play for me. And I’m like, what, what just happened?

Why are you muting yourself? sound? I don’t want to play it like that. I thought I’ve already heard it like,

Unknown Speaker 17:03

Brian Parham 17:03
This is phenomenal. So So my next question for you. And this goes back to what we were saying before we hit the record button. And this interview is, you know, as somebody who works in the schools, I constantly seeing schools, Portland public schools, you know, closing down various music programs. And I’m curious to know, in your thought, What is music had to offer kids today?

Dr. Mark Pipes 17:27
It offers everything if the school’s you know, on a here is here is my, here’s my latest paper I’m writing. If the school is going to fix themselves, they better check out the arts programs for how to do it. Your arts programs have been doing it right for a really long time. And it’s what’s really what’s really interesting to me is that the every time and I really think this comes from a bit from No Child Left Behind, but a mix with some conservativism. As far as well, we must protect math, and we must protect writing, I have obviously, I don’t have any problem with teaching people how to read, write, and do arithmetic and, and learn science. I think all of that is incredible. However, you learn how to learn all that stuff. By doing the arts, you have to be drawn into learning.

Unknown Speaker 18:15
And here’s why the arts allows a freshman and if you’re in high school, a freshman and a senior to sit together, what other class does that my math class doesn’t do that, my science classes and do that. But in music, I could sit next to a senior and learn from that person. That’s pretty amazing. And if you look at the science of it, one of the most effective ways to learn is peer to peer peers learn from other peers, what their teacher says is like 20-25%, what the student next to them says is a whole lot more. So just right there, we already have a classroom where somebody can get a little bit more self worth get a little bit more self confidence can have some peer to peer interaction, just because they’re sitting next to him.

Dr. Mark Pipes 19:01
Second, we have a situation where we have all of these we’re a melting pot, culture. And if you’re sitting in a classroom that is an art, well, you have a way to celebrate that culture all the time. All we’re doing is learning about culture. We’re learning about how to empathize, we’re learning about how to explore we’re learning about how to look at something from a different perspective. You’re learning how to learn. That’s what the arts do. They give you those skills of how to learn. So if you’re in the arts, and it doesn’t have to be bad, it could be it could be choir, it could be visual arts, it could be dance, it could be drama, or something I left out, you’re you’re literally learning how to be in school, so that when you go into science, you’re a little bit less afraid to ask somebody for help because in band class, you ask the kid next to you already in science class, You’re a little bit more likely to think, Okay, this word is some word I’m not familiar with. But in music class, there’s a whole lot of language that I don’t know. But I’ve learned along the way. So now that I’m in science, and I see something I don’t understand, I under I’ve, I have now a pathway of how to figure that out, I’m starting to figure out how to learn things. Because over here in the arts, there’s all this crazy stuff that I didn’t know about. But I have the confidence now that I can learn it that I do know. And so, you know, like I said that, and this isn’t just Portland, this is this is the whole country could look at the arts and say, Hey, guys, instead of throwing you in the trash, we actually need to put you at the top and ask you, what are we doing wrong? How can we fix ourselves? Because it’s not testing, I’ll tell you that it is not testing. Because there’s no testing going on in the arts, other than performance.

And you know what that brings me to another point. In, in band class, you’re only as good as your weakest player, if your weakest players over there playing the wrong notes. Your band’s not going to sound as good as it could be, if your math class has some kid failing, doesn’t affect the class, that doesn’t affect the top kid. But in band, if your jazz band has a drummer who’s playing off beat that affects the entire jazz band. So what does that mean? It means everybody comes together and tries to help everybody else. And so learning has starts to have all these other connections to it. And we start to work more as a community. And because the students start to learn and work as a community, then they can go into the community, outside of school, and start to make affect change that helps everyone and not just their little bubble. So I mean, I’ve just touched on a couple little things. But it’s not that the art should be saved, because we want music or we want nice, we want something that’s nice to look at art should be saved so that we can save schools. And I think, you know, a lot of these parallels can be put towards sports and athletics as well, but they don’t seem to need as much support. It’s funny, because we always look to the there was a an article I just looked at yesterday where a coach was sticking up for the art saying, because the sports were allowed to play during the COVID restrictions, but the arts weren’t. And the coach said, Well, we need to make sure the arts are doing their thing, too. And then it gets interesting, because I think sports are great. But isn’t it interesting that the arts even lower than athletics? I mean, it’s, it’s the it’s the thing that’s most often ignored and, and called like, well, nice to have, it’s not nice to have, it’s essential.

Brian Parham 22:47
Man, you just touched upon so many overlapping areas of my philosophy as an educator, you know, my big philosophy is that the guitar teaches kids the skills they need to succeed on the bandstand in the classroom, or anywhere else, and I draw so as an entrepreneur, I draw so many lessons, I mean, the main thing for for, for learning a musical instrument is butt in seat, can you sit down? And can you train yourself to practice day in and day out? Can you have a vision? Can you connect that practice to a vision? Can you set regular goals? Are you still holding yourself accountable to those goals, all of those things, that that, you know, not don’t only apply to music, but it can help you be successful in business, especially in today’s world where more and more we’re all becoming entrepreneurs, we all have to learn how to manage ourselves. And the thing is like learning a musical instrument, I can tell you as somebody who was the Entrepreneur of the Year in Oregon in 2018, is like, there are so many parallels. And music is all about 10 times harder. Learning a musical instrument is about 10 times harder than then doing business. And if you can learn a musical instrument, then you can and you can succeed at that man, you can apply those skills to anything else. And I’m in particular my experiences the world of business. But there’s another thing that you talk about. And it’s such an amazing point about being a team player. And what you said is not just a fact for the band, if you’re in band and you know your weakest player, but also in you know, in business. You’re only as good as your weakest teammate, you know, if you throw your end, the thing is, at a certain level, it’s not even about you anymore. It’s about raising the people up. It’s about creating that performed that culture of high performance and high accountability and also trust. And it’s all those things that you’re talking about that that students are able to learn. I mean, that was incredible. And then The first point you made was the peer to peer, you know, and you were saying that, you know, 75% of what we learned the students learned in school is actually being done from peer to peer. And just 25% is teacher to peer, so amazing. And just her I had a few more questions, but I want to be super respectful of your time. So I’m just going to start to wrap this up. I guess the next question is, I’ve got there’s really two questions I want to ask you, but I’m trying to be respectful of your time. But one you touched on here doing great. Okay, great, great. One that you touched on an Instagram. And this is a little bit selfish as a music educator, but I think people will find it interesting. What skills should every musician work on? No matter if they play saxophone if they play clarinet? Or if they play the guitar or even choir? I’m what are the basic skills that musicians need to develop?

Dr. Mark Pipes 25:49
Well, I mean, scales, everything is based on scales. And what I thought was funny. In a saxophone world, this is a little niche, right? There is a little bit of a rivalry of sorts between jazz and classical players, oh, there doesn’t need to be. It’s just that sometimes you’re putting all your effort in one side. So obviously, you’re gonna have this rivalry against the other side. It doesn’t matter. We most saxophones learn both styles when, as they should. But as I was teaching the jazz students, and I would have them play major scales, they would say, Well, I don’t want to learn my major scales on a user’s and jazz and I thought, all you do is learn, all we do is use modes of the major scales, and then add stuff to that. I mean, sure, you’re going to use some other scales. But major scales are the thing. And if and it’s so funny that I’ll have pushback from students, I mean, not pushed back, like, I don’t want to do it, but push back from not really practicing it. And then I say, Okay, well, let’s do, let’s go ahead and start working on some modal jazz. Let’s work on little sunflower, let’s work on. Sorry about that, oh, you’re fine. Or like, let’s work on some Herbie Hancock or something. And I’ll say, okay, we’re gonna use a Dorian mode. And I’ll explain to you what, that’s what it is. And they’re like, like, Yeah, because you haven’t learned your major scales yet. So it’s like, you can’t build on something that you haven’t learned. And so it’s always scales, scales, scales, scales, because then everything relates to that, even if you’re not going to use major scales all the time, everything is you at least have a point of reference. But by the way back to how we learn, we can’t learn something if we can’t attach it to something. Like if you take in a new piece of information, and you can attach it to something you’ve already learned, it goes right by you. Which is one of the reasons we try to educate people so thoroughly in this country is that what’s the what’s the point of breadth instead of depth? Well, breadth allows you to have depth in some other area, because then you have a little bit of knowledge, you can stick something to so so what’s the most important thing scales? Because you can search you can, like attach just about anything in music theory to major scales. Go ahead.

Brian Parham 28:00
No, I just think it’s absolutely amazing what you’re saying. And I feel like that’s the thing I get the most pushback from my students as well.

Dr. Mark Pipes 28:08
And why they always want to know why. And it’s hard to explain to them yet, because you’re like, well, we haven’t gotten there yet. You know, I grew up on the east coast. And I had never seen a desert, you know, until, until I drove across the country, which was in my late 20s. I think you can see it on you can see it in a movie. But until you’re go to Joshua Tree National Park, you’re like, Oh, well, this is a thing. You know, so when we take students somewhere, they’re always kind of like, I don’t know what that is. Yeah, yeah. We it’s, I think that’s a challenge for us is to always say, Well, we know where you’re going, you haven’t seen it yet. You have to have the skills, so that you can survive when we get there.

Brian Parham 28:55
It’s amazing. It’s amazing. I think that, you know, I’ve just gone and redid my curriculum. And the major scale is a big part of what I’m doing, because of what you said, everything is related. If you want to understand harmony, if you want to understand how melody works, then you need to understand the major scale, you need to understand how you build chords from the major scale. And you also need to be able to hear you know, where, where it starts, where it ends, your resolution, and then everything else. Sorry.

Dr. Mark Pipes 29:29
No, yeah, even if we use a scale, that’s not the major scale, it relates to it in some way. Just as a base knowledge.

Brian Parham 29:36
Just as you were saying, you know, as you were saying, if you’re doing the Dorian is the major scale starting on the second or even if you’re learning the minor pentatonic, I do rock right. So you’ve got to understand like, okay, the flatted third, what the heck does that mean? Well, you take a gallon you bought the third and that gives you the minor you know, right,

Dr. Mark Pipes 29:50
like third of what, exactly,

Brian Parham 29:52
exactly, exactly. Okay, so, but Oh, go ahead.

Dr. Mark Pipes 30:00
The second thing and I’m sure you’ve noticed this is students will learn to read notes before they can learn read rhythms. And it’s that rhythmic learning that I’m constantly like, making them read something that I know they can’t get through yet. But I want them to stumble through it so we can, so that we can work on it. Because otherwise, they learn they learn rhythms are only a URL, really. And so they’re not really learning how to read it, they’re waiting for their friends to play it or for me to play it or for you to play it. And then they’ll think, oh, that’s what that is. That’s okay. But I want them to learn how to count it out for themselves on the page, I want them to understand that relationship. And so this happens over and over and over, I’ll go into any school and have a sectional with a bunch of saxophonist and they, they trip all over the rhythms. And so it doesn’t matter if it’s jazz, or cloud or band or whatever. So I think that’s a big thing is, is let’s, let’s work on something that has a little bit more rhythmic or time, you know, it’s a compound meter, or it’s something that they’re not used to. And let’s, let’s figure it out.

Brian Parham 31:11
Excellent point, I just want to say you can’t you can make as a musician, you can make incredible music just on mastering a couple of simple concepts. The first one being your basic rhythms, if you can master a whole note, half note, quarter note, an eighth note, it’s astonishing, especially with the guitar, if you learn you can bind those four things, which is only one thing, basic rhythms, right, basic subdivision. If you can combine that with power chords, you can you can have a career on those. So I just want to say how far those simple skills can take a musician. And you were gonna say, and I’m sorry, I feel like I cut you off.

Dr. Mark Pipes 31:55
But have you ever noticed that your students don’t care about rests, like they think rests or some non rhythmic time period that they just chill for? Like I was. So I’ll play duets with students. And you know, now we’re living in zoom time. But even if I’m sitting next to them, they’ll do the same thing. Which is, well, this restless for? Well, I don’t know, what kind of last count, I guess I’ll try to figure out where I am now. And I think that’s like the thought process instead of just counting it because they have actual amounts of time. But I was I was playing this zoom too wet. So either I mute myself or my student mutes themselves. So when my students muted. And this is a little side note, it’s so they can hear me and model me. But I don’t know what they’re doing. Right. And so then I’ll have that on mute myself and play along with them. And then I do know what they’re doing and what they’re doing is getting to a rest and ignoring it and going.

Brian Parham 32:48
The rest is the thing that makes it cool. That’s what you hear. Certainly when you hear a big chunky, you know, rhythm guitar part. And it’s usually those rests in there that just Oh, that makes it sounds so funky. Okay, last question. Because, you know, we’re two music enthusiasts, we spent our entire lives you know, you with your PhD, as you were telling me before this, you’re also working on a master’s degree in music education, you know, and he’s still learning lifelong learning. I love that. And that’s the key, I think, to success on the guitar and the saxophone in music or anywhere else. But I guess my question is for like, those parents, you know, I imagine somebody who’s watching this and maybe doesn’t know very much about music, or doesn’t have a lot of experience in music, education, or maybe never played an instrument themselves, what are like some practical tips that they can use to integrate music into their everyday lives, of their families, or the everyday lives of their families?

Dr. Mark Pipes 33:48
Well, listening, obviously, you know, just listen, listen to more music. I had a childhood that I didn’t realize was special. My parents would take me to the Philadelphia Orchestra when I was a really little kid, and I’d fall asleep. And they take me to these musicals. And, and I would see these really well, these really great productions of people singing. And just out of that, I understood what a voice line should sound like. So then when I started playing, my teacher said, Oh, you already get this whole phrasing thing. And I thought, I guess I do. But what happened was that I had heard people singing for years and years and years, and understood how it was supposed to sound. And I understood the style of it. So it’s the same doesn’t matter what style you’re learning, are you learning jazz, you’re learning funk, or you’re learning hip hop, it doesn’t matter what it is, you got to go listen to it, figure out what they’re doing. And then you can insert yourself into that style and and learn it. It doesn’t matter like what you were born as it matters, what you listened to and how it affected you and how it how you integrated that. And so, listening is something you do anytime. You do in the car, you do a dude dinner?

Brian Parham 35:02
I think it’s an excellent point. And what made me think is talent, I heard this, I read this in a book, actually, talent is practice in disguise. And you know, this is actually a form listening to music is a form of practice. And so often, you know, this is what the book was arguing. Often, when you see a student who you think is incredibly talented, when you do a little bit of, you know, digging around, you find, oh, they were in a, you know, in an environment. And you talked about two things, really, you talked about listening, and you talked about going to see the Philharmonic, and you talked about at the beginning of this interview, you know, being part of the choir and having a friend at an early age. So, you know, all of these are forms of practice in disguise.

Dr. Mark Pipes 35:42
Right, right. Having that’s another great thing is just either doing stuff with your if you’re a parent doing stuff with the kids, or allowing your your kids to go and hang out with other friends who are also doing musical instrument and just trying things. That is a lot to be said, there’s a lot to be said for the GarageBand you’re just trying things out. And I like that again, the search for perfection is not where we’re going. We’re going for trying this out, how’s this work? And when we want to fill in the gaps, we go get help we go get a mentor. Fantastic.

Brian Parham 36:11
All right. Well, where can people learn more about your work?

Dr. Mark Pipes 36:17
My website is MarkPipes.com, just like just like my name. And you can find me there and also on Instagram, doctapipes. My friend named my Instagram site before I did the doctor anyways, doctapipes. I’m going to start doing some micro lessons and start doing some 30 to 60 second tiny little lessons just on like little little things, just because I feel like here’s the things I repeat in every lesson. What if I made little Instagram things about him when I be like, here’s, here’s what we’re doing. I don’t need I don’t need anybody to pay me for this, because I do it so often.

Brian Parham 37:01
Well, Dr. Pipes, I have to say I am so incredibly grateful for your time today. I honestly I’ve learned so much. And there’s you’ve given, you know, people watching this so much depth, and I just feel it’s such so spoiled. I mean, I’d like Inspire to go and and take some of the things that you talked about in the beginning to apply it to my music lessons.

Dr. Mark Pipes 37:27
So thanks, Brian. You know, right now, when everyone is trying to kind of just either stay home or not be a social, I think this type of stuff is super great. I really enjoy speaking to you. And we can do it as much as you want, you know, and maybe we’ll get some whiskey out.

Brian Parham 37:44
Well, if you ever want to interview me for on your end, I’d be happy to do it. And I just want to say man, honestly, this has been amazing. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for meeting with me today.

Dr. Mark Pipes 37:57
Yeah, thank you, Brian. I really appreciate it.

Brian Parham 37:59
Awesome. You have a wonderful week. Bye bye. Oh, and you know what, I gotta give you credit. Every master was once a beginner. The more you practice, the better you will become. I just have to end this by saying you through my students for a loop without even watching their minds. It’s funny because for years I’ve been saying, the more you practice, the better you get, the better you get, the more you practice. So it’s been hilarious at the end of every zoom call. Now I say just gotta imagine this. I say every master was once a beginner and then their brain and they start going and as you can see this moment, but I have to say I like yours better and I’m going with that and I’ve been so entertained every day on zoom watching my you know, my students stumbled through that as they’re getting used to the new thing.

Dr. Mark Pipes 38:51
I don’t remember who I stole that from but it is great. It is great.

Brian Parham 38:54
So thank you so much, man. You rock Dr. pipes.

Dr. Mark Pipes 38:58
Thank you.

Brian Parham 39:00
Bye bye

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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Brian Parham
Brian Parham

Brian Parham is the founder and creator of the Rock Dojo, an award-winning guitar program for kids. He’s also the author of three guitar method books for kids, the 2018 Teacher of the Year by Lessons.com, the 2018 Rising Star of Oregon by the Small Business Administration, and an award-winning artist. He’s currently pursuing an Advanced Professional Guitar Certification from Berklee School of Music. When he’s not rocking out on the guitar, Brian enjoys reading comic books, binge-watching Cobra Kai, and spending time with his wife.

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