Professor Spotlight: Dr. Brandon Goff


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Dr. Brandon Goff has traveled to more than 20 different countries spreading his love of music and embracing the musical culture of those countries

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

Drive, determination and a passion that cannot be dimmed has allowed Brandon Goff, associate professor of music, to live out his dreams through music.

Growing up in a rural town in Arkansas with less than 2,000 people, Goff realized at a young age that being successful in the music industry would require a move to a big city.  Packing his bags and grabbing his guitar, Goff moved to Memphis, Tenn. and began what has become a highly successful career which has led him to perform all over the world.

At 6 years old, his father handed him a guitar and told him he had to learn how to play. Since holding the instrument for the first time, he has been hooked.  Goff pursued a career in music by getting his undergraduate degree in music technology/composition from Arkansas State University and his Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Memphis.

As a single father, he worked himself to the point of exhaustion at several universities as well as at different recording companies throughout Memphis.  Once his daughter left for college, Goff was desperate for a change. He put in applications to different universities in the country.  It took one visit to FMU for him to know that this was where he wanted to be.

“Having grown up dirt poor in a small town with little resources. I was able to use my drive and passion to propel me forward into a successful career,” Goff said. “I can relate to the students [at FMU] because they, for the most part, are in the same situation I was in.  Seeing the passion in their eyes for music excites me and makes me do everything possible to help them be successful as well.  I want each student of mine to know that people born into underexposed situations are no less talented that anyone else.”

Goff still spends a majority of his time performing all around the world.  His career has taken him to more than 20 different countries including most of Europe.  He spends around six months of the year out of the country spreading his love for music and embracing different musical cultures.

In addition to music, Goff has other hobbies: racquetball and chess.  Goff engages in what he calls “extreme racquetball” which is a much more competitive version than recreational racquetball.  Not only does he play chess, but he collects wooden chess boards from all the different countries he visits.  He relates the intricate movements and gameplay of chess back to the intricacy of music.

Goff has a high appreciation for every genre of music from classical to pop.  Among these different genres, he has found certain musicians that he would label as his all time favorites.  These musicians include Third Eye Blind, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and Igor Stravinsky.  Stravinsky, a classical composer, was Goff’s first musical inspiration.  He spent several hours a day studying Stravinsky’s compositions and has incorporated different aspects of Stravinsky’s style into how he writes pop music.

When it comes to writing music, Goff lives by Voltaire’s quote, “I apologize for the length of this letter.  If I had more time, I would have made it shorter.”  Goff embraces the idea that length does not equal complexity.  As he explains, music is about self expression and saying things that words cannot.  Music is not about extensive length and mundane lyrics that are catchy for a small amount of time.

“The biggest compliment I can ever receive is the success of my students,” Goff said.  “I want them to have the same drive I have towards music.  Music is intellectual and emotional all at the same time.  It affects me on every level possible.  Every day it blows my mind to think of how blessed I am.  I make music each day with wonderful colleagues and push my students to embrace their passion. It doesn’t get any better than this.”