Jan Moorhead


"Rather than just stuffing students with information, I want to get them to understand the principles behind the information, so that when they go out, they leave the class with an understanding of how things are organized and how to learn other things when presented with them. I want students to know how to be able to operate in a variety of circumstances. The single biggest issue is finding out how you learn, how to break things down, how to find out the atomic elements of the information you're being presented with, so that you don't get overwhelmed."

"My teaching style tends to be interactive and jocular. I try to be entertaining while making sure that the information is getting across at the same time. I have a lesson plan, but I'm happy to change it on the fly, and I often have to just because of who shows up and what technology's working or not working. It's important to have the ability to change based on the demands and needs of the students and the particular situation. It's what's effective at that particular moment, that's the purpose that you're pursuing as a teacher."

"Of course, I've got an education, but I learned more playing in the jazz clubs with real people than I ever learned in college. Real-world experience has a lot to do with what I know and teach, and what's most important is your complete musicianship. With the rate of change in society and technology, your ability to be flexible and to learn new things, to move and be quick on your feet, is more important than anything else. That's one of the reasons I spend so much time explaining things and not just saying, 'Here's the right answer.' I want students to understand the system, why it's like this, why it works this way. Then, when they're confronted with something they've never seen before, they have a structure and a methodology and an algorithm, if you will, to figure out how the new thing works and how to achieve in this new situation."

Career Highlights

  • B.A., Michigan State
  • M.A., California State University - Long Beach
  • Director of Creative Services for Dynamix, a division of Sierra Online
  • Former faculty member in commercial music, composition, MIDI, jazz performance, and arranging at Long Beach City College and California State University at Dominguez Hills
  • Author of articles for Electronic Musician, ST Quarterly, and others