Question & Answer with New Music Professor Dan Musselman

The college of fine arts hired assistant professor Dan Musselman before the start of the fall 2019 semester

A profile photo of assistant professor of music Dan Musselman
North Central University’s college of fine arts hired two full-time professors in the fall of 2019. Assistant professor of music Dan Musselman is one of them. Students might know him from his popular YouTube channel featuring piano music, which now has more than 100,000 followers. Photo by Calli Kagel.

Professor Dan Musselman is new on the roster of the North Central faculty. He is an assistant professor in the music department. He started out his undergrad in music at the McNally Smith College, and then moved on to the University of Minnesota to receive both a masters (2012) and doctorate (2015) in music composition. After schooling, he continued to teach at McNally Smith, until it closed in 2017. That is when Musselman found a home at North Central.

Something Musselman does in his spare time is create content for his YouTube page. He uses YouTube as another income source and a place to share his musical talents with 100,000 subscribers. Musselman lives in the Bloomington area with his wife, and they spend a lot of their time reading and enjoying nature walks. 

Why did you choose to teach at North Central?

“The thing that I really love about North Central is that it’s a modern music program—meaning we are not stuck teaching classical oboe. If you love the obo, great! Keep doing it, but it’s 2019 and to make it as a classical oboe player is just going to be really tough. I am much more interested in the skills and knowledge that someone will need to make it as a musician in 2019 and beyond. North Central does a good job being forward looking with the music program. And then when you align that with the spiritual aspect, wow, that is a really powerful thing. We are moving forward and doing it with God—that to me is really exciting. If I had to custom design a school for me, North Central would be it.”

What is your teaching style?

“I try to be really practical. There are things about music that can be pretty abstract and theoretical, but for me, the mentality I try to take whenever I am teaching is, “What is it that I want the student to be able to do?” I try to start with the end goal in mind and work my way backward.”

What is a favorite memory from your college years?

“I think that some of the best things about McNally Smith were the connections that I made there. I can trace back so much of what I do now professionally to the friendships and networking established when I was 18 and just starting college. It is really cool to see the first relationships play out in my music and business partnerships. At the U of M, I think that one of my favorite things there was that they did a great job at giving me the opportunities to compose; that then had really cool performances attached to it. I would write a very large band piece that hundreds of people would see and hear … performed.”

Who is your hero?

“A piano player named Brad Mehldau. From a musical standpoint, he is super inspiring. He has this super fascinating combination of modern jazz, indie rock, classical music hat’s a little progressive and that is really cool. 
My spiritual hero would be my pastor, Anthony Richards. He has this ability to just raise people up that are around him. The way that he lives out scripture is super inspiring.”

Where is the best place you have ever traveled?

“My wife and I haven’t had any kids yet, so we have done a good amount of traveling. Most recently we went to the Grand Canyon, which was great. There is this place that is maybe about 2 hours away from the Grand Canyon called Antelope Canyon. It is almost too beautiful, it seemed fake.”

What is your favorite thing about Minneapolis?

“I’ll admit, I do not spend a lot of time downtown. I am really busy, so I do not have a lot of bandwidth to hang out.”

What is one hobby you really enjoy outside of teaching and campus life?

“My wife and I are avid readers. We also live close to Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, so we love nature and go on a lot of walks. We are both kind of ‘foodies’ so we love trying out new places to try new food!”

How did you become interested in teaching music?

“I started teaching when I was in high school, and I am a total music nerd, so I just have a lot of fun whenever I do music. Being a part of something that I really enjoy is getting to share that nerdiness with others. So, when I am around people who like talking/learning about music, it is cool to be a part of that process of learning/playing a small role in that person pursuing their passion and career.”

This interview was edited for space and clarity.

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