Featuring Dr. Daniel Jones: You Can’t Make a Career with Music, Can You?
Like many students, Dr. Daniel Jones, an honors professor at the
University of Colorado Boulder, struggled in his journey to find his passion. Growing up, he organized his interests in ‘feasible’ and ‘non-feasible’ categories. In doing so, his passion for music and desire to start a band were swept into the ‘non-feasible’ category while other doings were placed in the feasible category. It made sense that when it came time to pick a major, music was that last option on his mind. Trying to follow the footsteps of his dad, he tried multiple science and math majors before finally pulling the plug and quitting his first round of an undergraduate education all together.
During the next year, Dr. Jones tried to make sense of what to do next. With the help of his mom and a newspaper regarding a small music college in the San Francisco Bay Area, Dr. Jones realized that perhaps turning his passion for music into a career was not such a bad idea. Growing up, he remembers his mom constantly telling him that she didn’t care what he did, as long as he was happy. Naturally, and like most students, he brushed this off in a “Okay, sure mom” kind of attitude. However, now, he realized that being a musician was not as far as a stretch as it appeared.
He spent a few years on the road in the late 1970s playing with the Norton Buffalo Stampede. However, like the feeling he experienced when deciding against a math major, he realized he did not want to deal with living on the road forever. He then attended Sonoma State University in northern California to study music, and went on to earn his PhD in Musicology in 1991 from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Though his doctorate is in Musicology, he has gravitated to study and teach Ethnomusicology which removes the emphasis of Western classical music and demonstrates the importance of acknowledging and studying all genres of music.
Outside of teaching, Dr. Jones is also the leader of his own band called Standard Deviations. The band reveals his love for jazz music even though he plays the pedal steel guitar which is commonly considered a country music instrument. Dr. Jones grew up listening to jazz because of his mom’s love for Ray Charles. Rather than letting the stereotype dictate what music he plays, Dr. Jones experimented and showed that the pedal steel guitar is not in fact just a country instrument.
No matter where you are in your undergraduate career, Dr. Jones emphasized the importance of abolishing barriers that may prevent you from seeing your passion as a plausible career path. Of course, everyone has heard the typical three-year-old say, “I want to be an astronaut when I grow up.” Fine, fair. Not everyone who says that will become one, but there is always a way to incorporate your passions with your studies and future!
Want to learn more? Look below!
- First Teaching Job: Wichita State University (1992-93)
- Started teaching at CU in 1995, and has been involved with Honors since 2000
- Taught a Semester at Sea—Mediterranean Culture in 2009
- Taught Study Abroad course in Scotland in 2013
- And no bagpipes are not just in Scotland—in case you were wondering!
- Standard Deviations has a new CD out called, Hands Down
- Click the links below to explore some of their sounds!
- Standard Deviations will be playing Oct. 6, 3-4:30pm at Smith Hall for Honors RAP Family Weekend!