Skip to content Skip to navigation

Rock and roll, jazz, swing…popular music can often be overlooked by scholars, but if they do so, they miss out on some of the richest traditions of music.

Stephen Valdez

Associate Professor, Music History

For music educators, pop and rock history can be a great way to enhance traditional music education, and it doesn’t hurt that students already listen and connect to the rhythm. The history of jazz and rock runs deep in the U.S. and around the world, and these history classes only deepen a music educator’s repertoire in the classroom.

One of my research interests is in the evolution of the guitar solo in rock, something you might have seen in music videos but never considered as an evolving art form. I’m also interested in rock practice performances and how it affects and changes the perception of the band and the quality of performance.

In addition, I am fascinated and study the music of one of the quintessential rock bands of all time, the Beatles. I’ve written extensively on the subject of rock, including authoring the book “A History of Rock Music,” which is now in its fifth edition. Reading about rock can’t be the final product, though. You have to actively hear the music. You may hear this music every day. Rock is everywhere, but the problem is most everyone listens to it with half an ear- passive listening. They are doing something else, yet they’re hearing rock.

You have to listen to all the lines of music, a different way of listening you maybe haven’t thought of before, to truly understand rock and roll.

Learn more about Stephen Valdez.