musician teachers
[Photo via Brian May/Wikimedia Commons - Raph_PH, Dashboard Confessional/Dave Bean, Gene Simmons/Wikimedia Commons - Vitoria Gasteiz]

You can learn so much from musicians through their lyrics, playing style, personalities and more, but some are teaching people in more literal ways. Music isn’t a particularly well-paying career, so most artists end up picking another job to support themselves. While education isn’t a lucrative career choice either, it lets teachers gush about their favorite things to students.

Although students should be paying attention to the class materials, we also hope they take some musical lessons from some of the famous musicians-turned-teachers who have graced classrooms before. Take a look below to read up on some of the musicians who have led a classroom.

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1. Greg Graffin (Bad Religion)

Bad Religion vocalist Greg Graffin is one of the hardest-working musicians in punk, but he’s also dedicated himself to studying. Graffin obtained a bachelor’s and master’s at University of California, Los Angeles and later got his Ph.D. in zoology from Cornell University. In both 2009 and 2011, he put his knowledge to the test and taught paleontology/life sciences at UCLA and evolution at Cornell, respectively.

2. Peaches

Peaches is more well known for her overtly sexual lyrics and challenging traditional gender roles, but before this, she had a much more conservative job. The Toronto musician taught drama and music classes at the Associated Hebrew Schools of Toronto prior to moving on with her life to pursue music.

3. Blake Schwarzenbach (Jawbreaker)

Jawbreaker frontman Blake Schwarzenbach helped define the ’90s emo and punk movements, but as the band came to an untimely end, he needed something else to do. He started teaching undergraduate English at Hunter College in New York and started a few other bands before Jawbreaker reunited in 2017.

4. Chris Carrabba (Dashboard Confessional)

Prior to breaking out as Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba worked as a special education teacher. Carrabba apparently resolved that he’d never become a professional skateboarder and started teaching but would write songs on his acoustic guitar between classes. 

5. Steve Von Till (Neurosis)

Steve Von Till helped create one of metal’s most sonically heavy bands with Neurosis, but when he’s not creating dense soundscapes, he’s working with fourth-grade students. Neurosis haven’t been an overly active band for years now, so he needs to make money somehow, and teaching surely earns more than making bleak, droned-out metal.

6. Mike Mangini (Dream Theater)

Given the high complexity of Dream Theater’s music, it’s no surprise that Mike Mangini taught music students at the highly regarded Berklee College of Music. Unfortunately, Mangini left his job in 2010 after five years due to numerous issues with timing and finances.

7. Brian May (Queen)

Brian May created some of the most iconic music of the past century with Queen, but he’s also achieved a lot in the scientific world. The guitarist has a background in science and math but ditched finishing his Ph.D. when Queen started taking off, later completing it in 2007. Prior to Queen breaking big, though, May taught math and science to students at an inner-city school in London. 

8. Don Anderson (Agalloch)

Listening to blackened folk-metal act Agalloch is like a lesson in Norse mythology, so it isn’t too surprising that longtime guitarist Don Anderson earned a Ph.D. in English and started working as a professor in New York. He says he decided to start teaching writing, philosophy, film and literature after realizing he didn’t want an academic career in music.

9. Gene Simmons (Kiss)

Most people know Gene Simmons for being the fire-breathing face-paint clad bassist for Kiss, but at one time people knew him for being a sixth-grade teacher. Although his stint in education lasted less than a year, it helped him figure out that he’d rather be onstage. The difference between the two jobs is that instead of facing a couple of dozen people, Simmons wanted thousands to adore him. 

10. Milo Aukerman (Descendents)

Punk veterans Descendents became most famous for their debut album, Milo Goes To College, and if you’re familiar with the history of the band, he did exactly that, securing a pretty successful career as a scientist. Milo Aukerman earned a doctorate in biology, worked as a plant researcher for chemical company DuPont and even became an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware for some time.