The School of Rock is no longer just a pipe dream, with a college in the UK putting the 2003 film’s theory into practice.
As BBC News reports, England’s New College Nottingham (NCN) is believed to be the first college in the world to develop a course where students can study a foundation course in Heavy Metal, due to launch for the first time in September this year.
According to the NCN website, students will be educated in the history of heavy metal, its role in films and video games, and also includes modules of the music business as part of its headbanging education.
So why Nottingham of all places? Well the culture of punk rock and heavy metal is widely celebrated in Nottingham, with a large community supporting the genre. It’s also the home to the UK’s premier independent club Rock City, one of the biggest live music venues in the country, celebrating its 30th year in business this year.
“We’ve created this pioneering course in response to student demand and Nottingham’s growing music and creative economy,” reads the course description on the NCN website. “At its heart is music performance so students will be forming bands, gigging and promoting, while academically delving into what makes metal such a music phenomenon.”
Over the three year course, which costs £5,750 per year (AU$ 8,840), students will be learning to compose and perform heavy metal songs in the first year of their education, followed by performances on tour at venues around the country in the second and third year of the course. “In the past, heavy metal has not been taken seriously and is seen as lacking academic credibility when compared with other genres… But that’s just a cultural construction.” – Liam Maloy, NCN College
The NCN course description also lists potential careers that may stem out of the Level 4&5 FdA Music Performance (Heavy Metal) course, including musician, songwriter, music teacher, gig promotion, and work in a record company or music publishing.
Although many students may now be eagerly counting down the days until class begins, many high ups in the Student Education are less than impressed with the new faculty, believing that it is “a waste of time” and that the course will “lack weight with employers.”
Some criticisms for the course by higher-ups in the education department is that these outlined careers opportunities are not grounded careers, and can potentially be quite flimsy as justification for a massive time and financial investment by young students. Others may argue that in an area such as Nottingham, where many kids quit school before event attending college, that the course will ensure more students returning to their studies.
Liam Maloy, a lecturer in music performance at NCN who spent several months developing the heavy metal area of study, reasons that the degree is educationally sound. “It’s a degree, so it will be academically rigorous,” Mr Maloy told BBC News.
“In the past, heavy metal has not been taken seriously and is seen as lacking academic credibility when compared with other genres such as jazz and classical music. But that’s just a cultural construction,” he added.
Students can opt to continue their music studies after the completion of the foundation degree in Heavy Metal, by studying an extra year in music at the college which will provide them with a full degree awarded by Nottingham Trent University, which has accredited the course.
One naysayer opposed to the course is chairman of the Campaign for Real Education, Chris McGovern, who believes that “there are too many degrees being offered that lack credibility in the marketplace,” pointing out the new NCN Heavy Metal course as one such example.
“I suspect that may be the case with this course, unless you want to be a heavy metal star, in which case why would you need a degree in the subject?” he questioned. “It might seem an attractive, easy option to some people. But you don’t need to do a degree in heavy metal. It’s a waste of time.”
There are some that would agree that $8,000 a year to study heavy metal could be seen as a costly luxury. After all, some of metal’s biggest icons weren’t taught their craft (imagine Ozzy behaving for a teacher, let alone a classroom!), they learned it the ‘rock’ way – though the sweat and passion of the music. That or Steel Panther’s own ‘Eleven Commandments of Heavy Metal’ is just as educational.
For the rest of you out there, we leave you in the wise words of Jack Black in School Of Rock: “God of Rock, thank you for this chance to kick ass. We are your humble servants. Please give us the power to blow people’s minds with our high voltage rock.”