London

After nearly 50 years, record producer Lance Anderson finally got his music degree

It was 50 years in the making, but prominent musician, composer and producer Lance Anderson has finally received his degree from Western University in London, Ont.

Anderson finished his last course at Western University in 1977, but only graduated this year

Lance Anderson poses with his official Western University bachelor's degree, nearly 50 years after his finished his last course. The celebrated music producer, composer and writer is based in Orillia, Ont. (Submitted by Lance Anderson)

When a music professor at Western University in London, Ont., failed all 12 students in Lance Anderson's piano class in 1977, he'd had enough.

"I finished all my course requirements," said Anderson, who's based in Orillia, Ont. "I had gotten B-pluses and A's in piano performance, and to have this thrown at me at the last second, I wasn't having it."

Anderson, 68, is now one of Canada's prominent record producers, a Juno Award winner in the 1990s for Leahy, with both film and TV credits as a writer.

But back in his Western days, Anderson and classmates didn't pass the jury portion of the course, where students perform in front of a panel of three professors. 

He said he was given an option to redo the test the following week.

"And I said, 'No way. I'm insulted.'"

As a result, Anderson never graduated from the program he first began in 1973. But when the pandemic hit last year, and he was out of work as a musician, he looked into retaking the test. He thought he could record a performance and send it to Western for evaluation.

As it turned out, Western dropped the jury requirement 15 years ago, and suddenly, Anderson qualified to receive his bachelor's in music degree.

"It was just too good to be true."

Who's this old guy and where did he come from?- Lance Anderson, 68

Last November, Anderson reapplied to graduate, and much to his surprise, he was invited to be part of this past spring's virtual convocation ceremonies.

Listen to Lance Anderson's interview on London Morning:

Lance Anderson tells London Morning host Rebecca Zandbergen about finally getting his music degree from Western 50 years after he started it. 8:10

"It was pretty funny because, of course, all the rest of the class had never seen me, didn't know anything about me, and they're all in their 20s," he laughed.

"And they were all, 'Who's this old guy and where did he come from?'" 

Anderson is happy to finally have his degree, but admits, "I've conducted symphony orchestras. I've arranged for symphony orchestras, I've done film scores and all sorts of things nobody's ever asked me, 'Oh, by the way, what degree do you have?'"

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zandbergen

Host, London Morning

Rebecca Zandbergen is from Ottawa and has worked for CBC Radio across the country for more than 15 years, including stops in Iqaluit, Halifax, Windsor and Kelowna.

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