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Two jazz studies professors to join Jacobs faculty


Musicians Christian Dillingham, left, and Sean Dobbins, right, both pose for pictures. Dillingham and Dobbins will join the Jacobs School of Music jazz studies faculty Aug. 1.  Courtesy Photo

Drummer Sean Dobbins and bassist Christian Dillingham will join the Jacobs School of Music jazz studies faculty August 1. 

Jazz studies chair Tom Walsh said the department is excited to have Dobbins and Dillingham join the faculty. Both musicians are outstanding performers as well as skilled teachers, Walsh said.

“They both bring a really strong ability to teach the fundamentals of their instruments,” Walsh said. “And they both bring a wealth of professional performing experience. Those things are going to benefit our students greatly.”

Dobbins will join the jazz studies department as associate professor of music in jazz studies. He began his teaching career in middle school when his band director routinely asked him to help out the other students with their playing, he said. 

He went on to work professionally as a recording artist, direct the Ann Arbor Public School Summer Jazz programin Ann Arbor, MI, served as director of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra jazz ensembles and teach at the University of Michigan, Oakland University and Wayne State University.

Joining the Jacobs faculty is the greatest honor anyone can have, Dobbins said.

“I am beyond excited,” Dobbins said. “I’m really looking forward to this next phase in my life. I fell in love with the campus the second I was there.”

Dobbins’ said his mantra is “Work-life balance,” which he uses to teach his students how to find happinessby balancing their careers with their personal lives. He said he prioritizes teaching his students to be good people on top of being talented musicians.

“Build the person and the music will come,” Dobbins said. “I love helping people become who they are and see who they are through music.”

Bassist Christian Dillingham will also join Jacobs as adjunct professor of music in jazz studies and bass

Dillingham has played professionally around the Chicago music scene, performed with the Chicago Philharmonic and the Chicago Sinfonietta and taught at Eastern Illinois University and Roosevelt University, he said.

While playing professionally in Chicago, Dillingham said he met a lot of musicians who graduated from IU who he found very impressive. Some of his favorite bassists of all time also attended Jacobs, such as Robert Hurst, John Clayton and Edgar Meyer, he said. 

“IU’s always had one of the best music schools, not only in the country, but in the world,” Dillingham said. “Especially for bass, it’s always been one of the top music schools. I’m very excited to be a part of it.”

He said he’s looking forward to both teaching and learning from the high level students at Jacobs.

“Being open to what you can learn from students is just as important as what you can pass on to them,” Dillingham said. “The most important thing I can do is be honest and open.”

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