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Popular Music

What will you learn?

The degree in Popular Music is artistic, creative and practical, and aimed at all university graduates who have practical experience in music at a high level and want to deepen and expand their existing skills. An important aspect of studying at the Popakademie is the close, intensive collaborations with highly qualified lecturers from Germany and abroad.

The four-semester master’s programme is divided into two steps: The first year focusses on coursework, while in the second year the students realise their own, independent master’s projects.

Academic qualifications, development and fine-tuning of artistic personality are cultivated within three major fields of study: Performing Artist, Educating Artist, Producing/Composing Artist.

For the Performing Artist, the focus is on the implementation of musical projects while taking multimedia processes into account. In addition to continuing instruction in your major, you will realise an independent master project in the second year of your studies, which may be a concert or a music production in which you use the learned multimedia options such as lighting technology, visuals or cover design.

The Educating Artist will also deal with the implementation of educational projects. Here you will be trained in the teaching popular music for different target groups in schools and extracurricular institutions. In addition to a concert, the Educating Artist also carries out a project in targeted popular music education.

The concentrations Performing and Educating Artist can be chosen within the majors vocals, electric guitar, electric bass, drums or keyboard. By working on the professionalisation of stage presence and your own performance, your own profile and artistic personality are further developed and honed during your studies.


Vocal and Songwriting
Performing Artist
During your studies, we try to bring you to the necessary level for your band in singing and songwriting: How do I write lyrics? What tools and tricks will help me sing in a healthy way? What kind of sounds can I create with my own voice? How can I improvise with my voice?
Then we look at themes such as circle singing, writing choral arrangements, working with the loop station, effects and computer programmes, ad-hoc songwriting, International Songwriter Week, singing standard repertoire, getting to know other singing techniques, interview training, artist profiles, stage work and the planning of your master’s concert.

Educating Artist
Our mutual goal is to pick you up where you left off with your previous studies. We would like to provide you with methodic-didactic tools to be well positioned in the field of pop music. Body scanning (polarity, shiatsu, music kinesiology), current vocal techniques of popular music (EVT, CVT, Estill, functional voice training, speech level), in combination with singing standard repertoire and songwriting. This is followed by topics such as circle singing, writing choral arrangements, working with effects and computer programmes.

Department Chief: Prof. Annette Marquard. Further lecturers.
The main focus is on fine-tuning your personal profile. You will not only make your mark through your technical skills on your instrument, but also contribute to the music world through your unique artistic personality. This is why the strengthening of this identity is of utmost important and is tied together with concrete goal-setting.

1st semester: Peter Wölpl
2nd semester: Jan Zehrfeld
3rd semester: Gagey Mrozeck
4th semester: Kosho Koschorrek

Lecturers: Gagey Mrozeck & Kosho Koschorrek, prior knowledge is not required, but allowed.
  • General fretboard navigation, basic overview for correlations of chords & scales, open tunings
  • Chord inversions to develop and expand songwriting abilities on the guitar
  • Song examples, guitar riff compilation and exercises for different guitar styles
  • Relevant basic knowledge about the different guitar types and their sound and play types; amps, effects and sounds

Department Chief: Prof. Peter Wölpl. Further lecturers.
We’ll prepare you for a sustainable career as a live performance and recording session musician. The emphasis in the classroom is on sound formation based on influential bassists, sensitivity for tone lengths and timing as a groove factor and phrasing as a basis for bass lines and melodies. Furthermore, playing with a pick and using slap technique are part of the instruction.

Grouping, phrase-shifting and equipment instruction are key topics throughout the course of study. We also include stylistics and a detour into the sight-reading genre such as musical, orchestra pit and conducting, the ternary rhythms as well as ethnic and fusion music with all its complexity.

Our goal is to set you up with the broad skills needed to meet the challenges of a career as a professional bassist.

Department Chief: Prof. Frank Itt. Further lecturers.
Department Chief: Prof. Udo Dahmen. Further lecturers.
Now that you’ve acquired many skills and your talent has been promoted, we will support you on your journey to become a complete artistic personality.

For this it is necessary to analyse which strengths and weaknesses favour or prevent an optimal position on the market. Accordingly, we will create an individual programme with you, focusing on creativity, mastering of the instrument, stylistic confidence, virtuosity and flexibility.

We will work on technical exercises, transcriptions and your own compositions and arrangements. In addition, you’ll have the opportunity to deepen your knowledge in the fields of sound aesthetics or keyboard sounds as well as arranging electronic music for keyboarders.

Department Chief: Prof. Mathias "Maze" Leber. Further lecturers.
Popular Music Education
The main focus of the Educating Artist programme is not only to further develop artistic personalities in the field of popular music in their artistic activities, but also to further develop, deepen, specialise and professionalise their pedagogical skills. The course contents are designed to be hands-on, teaching a variety of models and concepts of popular music education. In addition, you will learn theoretical knowledge, which enables the Educating Artist to coach music at a high level, tailored to different target groups and goals.

At the Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, our experience has shown that there is increasing demand for authentic artists who are also able to impart their art to others. Changes in the educational landscape (e.g. full-day schools, integrated classrooms, cultural education, etc.) have created new opportunities for artists with pedagogical qualifications.
The course contents are intended to educate artists so that they can teach popular music in targeted music coaching sessions. These target groups run the gamut, from pre-schoolers to high schoolers, children with special needs, adults and seniors. As a freelance artist you will be able to work with various institutions to meet different goals.

Although the Educating Artist works primarily as a freelancer/self-employed, many of our alumni have gone on to get fixed employment at e.g. music schools, public and private schools, vocational schools, public institutions or in youth cultural education.

Department Chief: Prof. Axel Schwarz. Further lecturers.

For the Producing/Composing Artist, this concentration offers topics such as songwriting, production, film scores, lyrics and arrangement. The creation of your own compositions, songs, lyrics and productions is the main focus. For that reason we work on perfecting your role as a service provider for band projects and music productions in all media using music, such as sound design, film, jingles or games.


Those with bachelor’s degrees in the field of music or sound engineering learn the craft of music production and how to handle special, less frequently used and difficult-to-implement techniques and settings under technically high-quality conditions, beyond the experience you bring to the table. This happens largely under individually coordinated coaching. You can test acquired knowledge in contexts that are as demanding as they are diversified in terms of technical resources as well as musical, temporal and team-specific circumstances. This not least allows you to find your individual working style, philosophy and areas of development. At the same time, theoretical background, generalized basic principles as well as special phenomena of the producing field are scientifically recorded, researched and questioned, thus opening up an overall musical understanding.

Those with bachelor’s degrees in the fields of sound engineering will be able to expand their knowledge as well as practice-related connections to their skills. You will also come into contact with a wide variety of work and music styles. DJ and EDM producers, singers and instrumentalists with prior knowledge of producing will be offered the opportunity to expand their skills to include a variety of high-level techniques and methods. Songwriters and composers who need to expand their skills to the competent and versatile audio production of their compositions, both true-to-genre and cross-genre, will gain the necessary knowledge and practical experience.

All students are offered the opportunity to get to know comprehensive studio work and the pop music production situation in its diversity.

Course Contents in Detail
Arrangement, recording, sound design, groove and beat programming, production of your own projects and individual assignments, electronic music producing (EMP) and remixing, sound engineering with a focus on stylistic design and sound trends, analysis, new technologies for production and distribution, film music in production and business, working with surround sound formats, games music, sound branding and advertising, development of individual tools and work environments, group dynamic processes in the recording / production situation, psychological skills in dealing with the artistic production situation, techniques of artistic influence / design in studio-related creative situations, producer typologies, handling of the human voice in the context of popular music / vocal-producing (deepened), vocal arrangement and vocal arrangement in the studio, orchestral arrangement and recording in the studio, extended instrumental knowledge (focus on ethnicity e and rare instruments), mixdown in various settings and contexts, mastering (deepening), conducting productions / recording of existing or to-build acts with mentoring by faculty, music business practice and knowledge especially for producers, songwriters, EM producers and DJs, music business in the field of medial music, specials by and for producers.

Department Chief: Prof. Florian Sitzmann. Further lecturers.
Music Theory and Composition
In the composition department, we focus on teaching technical and artistic skills required for composing and arranging popular music.

Specifically, we work on foundations of composing, learning different approaches, working on your own concepts and finding your compositional voice, simulating commission situations and mastering counterpoint using multi-vocal arrangements for strings, winds/brass or choir.

In addition, you’ve gain insight into the world of film music, gaming music and music for commercials. In individual and group lessons, your individual composition strengths will be reinforced, and the process of creating music and its results will be optimised. Internationally recognised songwriters, film composers and arrangers are ready to assist our students through additional workshops.

Department Chief: Prof. Alexander Paeffgen. Further lecturers.

Artist Profiles

Performing Artist
Technically savvy on your instrument, you also have a strong artistic personality. You run the gamut from interdisciplinary concepts to solistic-concertante performances and are often willing to experiment.

The development of your artistic personality will profit from the theoretical study of various areas of art and media theory. The goal is to be able to develop and implement a multimedia concept, individually or in a team, and perform it on stage at the end of the programme.
Producing/Composing Artist
Your core competencies include creating and implementing musical works. These compositions are valuable as artistic pieces as well as use-oriented productions. Your readiness to explore on the fringes of avant garde and experimental fields of music does not preclude your ability to deliver commercially oriented commissioned compositions from the initial idea through to production.

A high level of sound-aesthetic awareness and above-average compositional skills are a prerequisite for developing unique song ideas. As a Producing/Composing Artist you see yourself as a director of sound, connecting your know-how interdisciplinarily with sound design, psychoacoustics, sound aesthetics, multimedia and media theory.
Educating Artist
As an Educating Artist, you boast musical-technical savvy as well as experience in composing and producing music. You can create music with the help of contemporary instruments, such as composing on the computer, and you’re capable of integrating multimedia elements into your work as a music educator. Throughout your studies you will be developing the necessary methodical-didactical skills and applying them theoretically.

You have extensive knowledge of the popular music repertoire. Your acquired methodical-didactical knowledge will be used in practice in new areas, such as with children with special needs, or through band projects at experimental schools. Through these experiences you will develop new concepts and teaching methods, scientifically justified, independently carried out and evaluated.