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CLASS ACTS: Famous musicians who used to be teachers

School is in full session, and we hope you had an awesome summer. Teachers are one of the best aspects of going to school. You might be surprised to learn that many famous musicians and performers used to be teachers before they became famous. Let’s take a look at the P11 Too Cool For School Fantastic Scholastic list. And while you’re doing that, listen to the awesome playlists on P11 FM — our Spotify channel.

Three-time Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator and star of Hamilton, taught seventh-grade English for one year and was a substitute teacher at his alma mater, Hunter College High School.

Ezra Koenig, songwriter and the lead singer of Vampire Weekend, taught eighth-grade English in Brooklyn after graduating from Columbia University.

KISS’ Bass player and singer Gene Simmons taught 6th grade in Spanish Harlem for 6 months as the band was forming.

Gordon Sumner (aka Sting) was a certified primary school English teacher and soccer coach in England before his band, The Police, reached superstardom.

Sheryl Crow (“This ain’t no disco. It ain’t no country club either. This is LA.”) taught music at an elementary school in St. Louis after graduating college.

And punk rockers are pretty darn smart too. The Descendents’ Milo Aukerman holds a PhD degree in biology from UC San Diego and was an adjunct professor at the University of Delaware before his band got noticed.

Before writing hits like “Killing Me Softly,” Roberta Flack taught English literature in Farmville, North Carolina. That iconic song was covered by the Fugees and won a Grammy for their rendition.

Country legend Kris Kristofferson was doing well in the army and accepted a job teaching English at West Point. But he turned it down to pursue a music career in 1965.

And for serious rock royalty that’s truly A+, Brian May, taught math at Stockwell Manor School in London before finding success as a musician in the band Queen. His bandmate Freddie Mercury graduated with a degree in graphic design from Ealing Art College and graduated in 1969.

And on the flip side, Bad Religion vocalist Greg Graffin obtained a bachelor’s and master’s at UCLA and later got his Ph.D. in zoology from Cornell University. In both 2009 and 2011, he taught paleontology/life sciences at UCLA and evolution at Cornell.

Regardless of when you start, learning music provides numerous benefits. It can improve memory, focus, mathematical skills, spatial intelligence, self-expression, and the mind-body connection. P11 wishes all students, teachers, and administrative staff a safe, productive, and enjoyable school year filled with music. Keep on rocking and learning!

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