10 Legendary Music Professors Teaching Today

Peter Erskine

Professor of Practice, Director of Drumset Studies, USC Thornton School of Music

Peter Erskine with Michel Benita – photo by gianky via Wikimedia Commons

Peter Erskine is a household name as prominent as any in the world of jazz.

Having appeared on over 600(!) commercial albums and film recordings, Erskine has won two Grammy awards for his contribution to music.

As a musician, he is best known as the former drummer of Weather Report, one of the most famous jazz fusion groups of all time that featured the likes of legendary bassist Jaco Pastorious and keyboardist Joe Zawinul.

The list of musicians who have recorded with Erskine is a who’s who of contemporary music.

These include Joni Mitchell, Kate Bush, Diana Krall, Steely Dan, Rod Stewart, all household names I am sure you have heard of.

Now, Peter Erskine teaches in the Jazz Studies and Contemporary Music division at USC’s Thornton School of Music, one of the top music schools in the country conveniently located within Los Angeles, an entertainment and arts capital.

The admission rate into the jazz studies program at USC is quite low – Erskine’s students themselves are among the most talented young drummers today.

William VerMeulen

Professor of Horn, Rice University Shephard School of Music

Very few teachers in music have produced, time and time again, student outcomes that William VerMeulen has masterfully orchestrated.

His students have won positions in the most prestigious of orchestras, including the Boston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, and dozens of other top-tier orchestras and ensembles.

Only a handful of professors in history can claim results this extraordinary, having had over 250 positions of performance employment been given to his relatively small, select group of students.

Keep in mind that every orchestra only has 4-6 horns at any given time, which sheds greater light on Bill’s tremendous success.

For 28 years, Bill himself has been the principal horn player of the Houston Symphony, a top-tier Grammy-award winning orchestra.

Outside of Rice, Bill has taught and performed throughout the world’s great classical music festivals, include Aspen and Tanglewood.

Richard Aaron

Professor of Cello, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor & The Juilliard School

Perhaps the most popular cello professor in the country, Richard Aaron is known to his many students as an arbiter of excellence in technique, musicianship, and accuracy.

The result of his teaching has been nothing short of extraordinary; his students have won principal cello positions in the Chicago Symphony, Saint Louis Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Utah Symphony, and Seattle Symphony.

Outside of these principal cello positions, many others are employed worldwide in other top orchestras.

His students are known as top prizewinners in the most prestigious of competitions, such as the Naumburg Prize and Washington International.

Ever since his 2007 appointment at Michigan, the school has become known worldwide as one of the premiere destinations for a competitive classical cellist.


  1. Patrick O'Neall January 15, 2019
  2. MH January 15, 2019
  3. Regine De Clercq January 16, 2019
  4. sandra shapiro January 17, 2019

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