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Home > Main > The Pop Academics are Coming

The Pop Academics are Coming

Florian StädtlerIntroduction by Florian Städtler, Vocal Blog

Hi everybody singing, shouting, beatboxing all over the Vocal Globe, this time we got a first-time guest author at Vocal Blog. George Liszt, founder and driver of one of the coolest music “schools” in Europe, the Frankfurt/Germany based Scream Factory (

I like the fact that George is not writing about vocal music in particular, but gives his opinion and asks some clever questions (which you should comment on!) about how musical education in rock, pop and jazz music is more and more becoming academic.

However, have you ever entered an audition with your music diploma in your hand, reading it to your fellow musicians, the jury or an artistic committee? You know that when it comes to play, sing and perform, it’s not a piece of paper that counts – it’s your chops, your empathy, your ability to adjust to a musical situation and deliver great sounds and musical ideas.

But let’s have a look, what George, a pioneer of authentic, contemporary music education wants to tell us – and feel free to comment on his post.

When I started 40 years ago in my first rockband playing bass and singing in 8 inch boots, bell-bottoms, and hair to my waist, I was definitely part of the coolest scene that existed in Vienna during the early 70′s.

We didn’t want to cover or imitate anybody’s music, oh no, we met a couple times a week in some basement, and jammed on extremely bad equipment! It was so exciting to create our own ideas and sound, that we were addicted!!

Sure, there were cover bands at the time. But we looked down our noses at them and called them “Commerce Bands”, while being extremely proud of our Underground Scene.

One or the other musician in my band had taken lessons with a guitar teacher, our keyboarder even attended the Viennese Music Conservatory, while the rest of us were autodidact. Music education only existed on the Conservatory, or Music College, and Pop music was frowned upon…

40 years later, I manage the Institute of Performing Arts, for vocalists, actors and performers, the Frankfurt SCREAM FACTORY, which I founded 16 years ago.

I still love to play, groove, and create sound! Improvisation is still what gives me the real kick because something new always happens, a musical Polaroid, if you will. You play yourself, and portray yourself, creating something that no one’s ever heard before, always running the risk of mistakes, but that’s the charm and the thrill of it, isn’t it?

That’s exactly what we pass on to our singers and performers, everyone should learn what their own musical expression, or musical preferences are, and then learn how to portray it. That’s why we have no Scream Factory Ciriculum. Every one of our students develops (with the help of one of our coaches) their own individual and personal made-to-fit Trainings Program.

During the last 10 years, music schools have popped up out of the ground like wild mushrooms, so there is definitely a big need for music lessons, in general. Singers, musicians, andcoaches Georg Lisztare technically more mature, but now they’re going Academic…Pop Academic, to be exact! Isn’t that a contradiction in itself? Pop….. Academy……. Dr. Pop??

Pop music, the way I perceive it, moves between good and bad, style and kitsch, professional and amateur, and, more often than not, is the very reason it is successful!!! That’s what made Pop Music special all these years. Because of the brave, creative, colorful and crazy personalities that became Idols for entire generations.

If “Dr. Pop” takes on this legacy, I wish him a lot of success, but most of all I wish him Passion, because isn’t that the true motivation for music, and not a piece of paper with an Academic Degree on it!?

George Liszt

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Als ich vor 40 Jahren in meine erste Rockband als Bassist und Sänger einstieg, gehörte ich mit meinen 10cm Stiefeletten, Schlaghosen und der hüftlangen „Matte” so ziemlich zur coolsten Szene die es im Wien der beginnenden 70er Jahre gab. Wir wollten weder irgendwelche Musik covern oder nachspielen, nein, wir trafen uns einige Male die Woche in irgendwelchen Kellern und jammten auf mehr oder weniger schlechtem Equippment. Wir fanden es einfach spannend eigene Ideen zum klingen zu bringen, waren regelrecht süchtig danach.

Klar gab es zu der Zeit auch schon CoverBands. In Wien nannten wir diese jedoch abfällig „Commerzbands”, während wir uns stolz zu den „Undergroundbands” zählten. Der ein oder andere Musiker meiner Band hatte sicherlich irgendwann mal bei einem Gitarrenlehrer Unterricht, der Keyboarder besuchte sogar das Wiener Musik Konservatorium, der Rest von uns waren Autodidakten. Ausbildung gab’s zu der Zeit nur am Konservatorium oder der Musikhochschule, Popularmusik war dort äußerst verpönt.

40 Jahre später leite ich nun, bereits im 16. Jahr, ein Institute of Performing Arts, für Gesang,Sprache,Schauspiel,Performance, die Frankfurter SCREAM FACTORY. Nach wie vor liebe ich es einfach nur zu spielen, zu grooven, zu klingen. Aufmerksam höre ich zu was neben mir passiert und kann es kaum erwarten darauf zu reagieren. Improvisation ist noch immer das was mich wirklich kickt, denn es passiert immer Neues. Momentaufnahmen eben. Man singt und spielt während man zuhört und sich mutig über den nächsten Akkord bewegt. Man spielt Sich und stellt Sich Selbst dar, man bringt ungehörtes hervor….ja, es „menschelt” dabei sehr oft, aber das ist auch gut so! Genau das geben wir als Input an unsere Sänger und Performer weiter: jeder soll seine eigene musikalische Vorliebe, Ausdrucksweise und Sinnlichkeit kennen- u. darstellenlernen. Es gibt deshalb kein Scream Factory Ciriculum, jeder unserer Schüler entwickelt mit Hilfe unserer Coaches sein individuelles, der jeweiligen Persönlichkeit angepasstes Trainingsprogramm.

In den letzten 10 Jahren schössen Musikschulen wie Pilze aus dem Boden. Es gibt großen Bedarf nach Musikunterricht. Sänger, Musiker und Coaches sind heute technisch gereifter, und jetzt wird es sogar akademisch…… Popakademisch!

Ist das nicht ein Wiederspruch? Pop und Akademie. Dr. Pop?….also, Popmusik wie ich sie kenne bewegt sich zwischen „Gut und Böse”, zwischen Stil und Kitsch, zwischen professionell und amateurhaft und ist sehr oft gerade auch deshalb erfolgreich. Das hat doch all die Jahre Popmusik ausgezeichnet…. kreative, mutige, schrillernde Persönlichkeiten die oft ganzen Generationen Vorbild wurden.

Wenn „Dr. Pop” jetzt dieses Erbe antritt, wünsche ich ihm viel Erfolg, vor allem aber große Leidenschaft, denn das ist unsere wahre Triebfeder, nicht der akademische Titel!?

George Liszt

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  1. 19. März 2010, 04:32 | #1

    In Taiwan, We don’t have any official pop school yet, it is not in the academic system, no Jazz also. How I envy your environment. However, I would like to see one before i die…

  2. 23. März 2010, 22:10 | #2

    Hi Ray,
    question is, if a truly academic system produces better artists at the end of the day.
    Schools, or more precisely, teachers are very important though. Every young student of music must be thankful to share the experience and practical know-how of fellow musicians.

    One more interesting point comes to my mind: A fantastic singer or instrumentalists can be a terrible teacher – if he or she sees it as a chore or a necessary but tedious way to make ends meet. Fortunately there are many musicians who love both performing live and passing on their experince to the up-and-coming.

    When I studied music in Germany, the musical director of my school was an Indonesian pianist and singer called Deviana Daudsjah. After about ten years in Europe she went back to her home country and opened the first jazz, rock and pop school in Jakarta. Maybe you can check this link and learn more about her career and pioneer work in music education.

    Say hello if you’ll get in touch with Deviana!

  3. 24. März 2010, 08:23 | #3

    @Ray – there are already well established international associations taking care of music education and networking. Maybe you are interested in those links:


    All best, Florian

  4. 19. Mai 2010, 19:32 | #4

    @Ray – there are already well established international associations taking care of music education and networking. Maybe you are interested in those links:


    All best, Florian

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