Professor’s Got the Blues
by Carlos Carmona and Jacob Larcon
Who’s a blues guitarist, and a math teacher who at is at Cypress College? She’s Laurie Morvan, the front-woman of the Laurie Morvan Band. Prof. Morvan is unlike most teachers on campus, when she is not teaching her students the language of mathematics, she plays gigs in various parts of the country.
Morvan stated how she started playing guitar around the age of 17. From her grandmother being a church organist to her grandpa having a great voice, Morvan came from a long history of music.
“I would learn Eric Clapton, and Jimi Hendrix,” she said when asked about her inspiration. “Then my main man, Stevie Ray Vaughan. That’s what opened up my world.”
Morvan was then asked how can she manage between having a school schedule and having a band schedule due to the fact that her band calendar usually plays during weekends during the school year. “You know I go a little bit insane,” she replied. She then stated, “It can get really demanding to have two careers. And teaching is a career that demands a lot of you, and it takes a lot of time.”
She then stated how when she is in the tour but, while her band mates are listening to their iPods, she will be grading calculus exams. “It’s not a complaint at all cause that’s the life I’ve chosen,” she said.
Morvan was then asked if she could choose between careers, and which would it be. “I love teaching, but I have no hidden agenda. If I could be a full time musician and make plenty of money doing it, that’s what I would do, because it is my passion,” she said.
She then stated, “If I gotta have a ‘day gig’, teaching is the perfect career for me.” She also said that she chose the math career because her bachelor’s degree was in electrical engineering. “I did engineering for three years, but that’s a 50-week-a-year job, of course. And so I realized, maybe I want to teach so that I can have my summers to tour.”
“I think about a lot things,” she said when asked about writing her music. “In the blues there’s a lot of songs of big legged women, and I have a good sense of humor, so I was like, hey there are songs of big legged women, but not any skinny chicks.” Sure enough, in her album, “Fire It Up!’ there is a song called “Skinny Chicks.”
Morvan also attracts attention from people in the Math and Science building where she teaches. One person is Richard Fee, the Dean of Science. Fee has been a dean since 2007, and one of his duties involves evaluating full time teachers. He says that Morvan is a great teacher.
“I think I’s cool,” Fee says about her life as a blues guitarist. “It helps humanize it, because math is a subject students don’t always like.” He stated how students think how math teachers are like robots, but with this other part of her life it gives students something to talk about.
Morvan’s students are, of course, a big part of her career. One of her students, Zain Farooquee, engineering major, says it’s “surprising” that his professor is a blues guitarist. He continued with how he likes her teaching style and says, “she goes over the notes, and is always offering to help which is really nice.”
Another student is Minh Le, computer science major. “I saw the website,” he said, which is how he found out Morvan is a blues guitarist. “I’ve seen a picture and then a video It was cool.” “It’s a fun class,” he adds.
Sacrifice seems to be a virtue students don’t realize their teachers adopt. But some teachers still pursue their dreams despite overwhelming schedules. Like Morvan says, “In my music career I’m chasing my own dreams, but in my math career I’m helping people chase their dreams.”