Joseph Akins

Professor of Audio Production - Composer - Pianist, Kawai Artist




Dr. Joseph Akins is a professor, pianist and composer, and has been deeply involved with music all his life. As a youth, he performed in his family’s country-rock band and toured with the pop-rock band Blaze. After the band split apart, Joseph enrolled in college to study composition, electronic music and jazz piano eventually earning a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee and a Master’s degree from Radford University. Since that time, Joseph has sustained a career in music and higher education with the release of eight solo albums and the acquisition of a doctorate in education. Today, Joseph divides his time between being a music artist and teaching music technology as a tenured professor for the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University.



What does music mean to you personally?

It’s my life, my joy, my occupation, my career and my obsession!

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

I think of music as creativity and imagination. It provokes moods and feelings.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I love technology and have a minor in computer science. I currently teach music technology at Middle Tennessee State University. If I wasn’t doing anything in music, I would probably be doing something with computers.

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

I’m not worried about the future of classical music. I believe that youth will learn to appreciate it as they grow older. I know I have.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

I’m not good at predicting the future but I wonder sometimes how technology will change how music is created. Between artificial intelligence and robots, I wonder how this will impact music.

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the musical process for you?

I believe the musician today needs to be diverse. You need to have your hands in many different disciplines and acquire different skills. So yes, you need to be very creative. For me, I not only play piano, but I use technology to write and promote my music.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

The first thing that comes to mind is combining visuals with music. Every since the dawn of films and MTV, visuals have become an increasingly important element of music. I understand the younger generation uses YouTube a lot, so it would make since to go there.

Tell us about your creative process. What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

My favorite piece at any moment is usually the one that was just written. At this moment, I am composing music for piano, flute, cello and percussion. I began by writing the piano part at my grand piano. Then I moved to the computer to make a MIDI mockup with all the instruments. Next, I created the parts and sent them to the other musicians to prepare for our upcoming performances and recordings. This process is exciting and fun for me!

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

I recommend learning music history. Read books and websites about composers and their music. Then listen to it. It’s easier today than ever!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Always. This is very important. I compose music for an audience so, yes, I do.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

As I mentioned before, I’m working on music that combines the piano with ensemble. I’m hoping to record and publish this new music over the following year. Lots of experimenting is happening!

You can keep up with it at my website:

Thank you for the interview!