My Music Education Degree Was The Best Degree

My Music Education Degree Was The Best Degree

I’m a fitness professional with a music degree.

I look like a jock, but I can play the hell out of the trumpet.

I’ll throw down with you on a metcon, and then tell you why Gustav Mahler was such an influential composer by being the undeniable bridge between the late-romantic era to early modernism (just listen to Mahler’s 2nd symphony and be happy and sad all at the same time). 

I like to make fun of myself for having a music degree in an industry that is dominated by degrees in kinesiology, human performance, exercise science, etc. But my degree, and the experience that went along with getting that degree, couldn’t have prepared me better for the life of a gym owner and instructor of physical fitness to all walks of life.

It Taught Me How To Learn

When you think you know a lot, you truly know little to nothing. My 5 years at the University of Houston Moore’s School of Music was full of continuous learning, the relentless pursuit for perfection, and asking questions. It was essentially 5 years of learning how to learn. In the music education world (which is just like any other world out there), you are always learning. When you aren’t learning and trying to improve, someone else is, and they’re going to be better than you. “You need to know how to play these 5 notes on the clarinet by next week” is no different than “You need to know how to properly prepare a workout for an athlete coming back from a glenoid labrum tear.” What do you do? You study, practice, and implement. In this world of health and wellness, it’s a constant evolution of learning.

It Taught Me How To Work With People

Have you ever tried to work with prima donna musicians who think they are the world’s next Yo-yo Ma? It’s an… experience, that’s for sure. You get to interact with ALL types of people in music school. Nice, mean, irritable, patient, kind, stuck up, humble… all types. But the audience doesn’t care about personality conflicts in the band or orchestra. The audience has paid some damn good money to listen to an incredible evening of music. You better do your job! They don’t care what the conflicts might be on stage… they want beautiful music! Same thing when I’m working with anyone in the fitness industry. I’ve had personal training clients in the past that are a challenge to work with…but at the end of the day, they pay good money for results. I have to do my job, and provide the best product possible.

It Taught Me HOW To Teach

This aspect of my degree is probably the most important to me. Anyone can have a desire to learn more. With enough experience, you’ll learn how to work with people… but being taught *how* to teach by some of the finest educators in the country isn’t always easy to come by.

Teaching is an art form. Being able to engage one person is hard enough, let alone a class of 14 people like we have here at Yellow Rose. Now, imagine trying to teach 40-60 junior high kids at one time with fancy noisemakers (that’s a technical term for instruments), keeping them engaged, and preparing for a performance for the toughest critics around: PARENTS.

After my experience, teaching you how to power clean is a lot less stressful!

I’m not trying to take away from anyone who worked their butts off to get an exercise degree. The knowledge base that they have is fantastic, as well as a wealth of contacts they probably have in the industry. I’ll stand behind this until I die:

You can have all the knowledge in the world, but it does you no good if you can’t teach it.

We see that a lot in the music world… some of the best players in the world are terrible teachers. Some of the worst players you’ve ever heard are remarkable teachers. It’s no different in the fitness realm either. There are trainers with PHD’s in human performance that can’t get people to move properly… and there are trainers with much less education that are changing people’s lives DAILY by getting them to move to the best of their ability and finding the best ways to dial in their nutrition.

Note: We should all strive to a level of mastery of our craft. If you have zero desire to teach… don’t teach. Play the hell out of your instrument or research articles until the cows come home and be the greatest intellectual of the fitness industry… but having a high level fancy degree does NOT automatically qualify you as a great teacher or a great coach. 

For my business, our number one product is professional coaching. In order to be a professional coach, you need to be a professional teacher. I still have a lot to learn, and need a lot more practice. We ALL do. But I know my current ability level in teaching would be much lower without music school. Many thanks to the Moores School Of Music for setting me up for success in the fitness world. Didn’t see that one coming when I auditioned! 

-Clark Hibbs


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