Dr. David Lee Fish, Ph.D.

Founder & CEO of College Music Major


Dr. David Lee Fish, Ph.D., is a veteran figure in music and education whose extensive career spans decades of dedication and hard work. He is known for his unique approach to music and his commitment to sharing his passion with others. His expertise ranges from performance to education, and private consulting, making him a veritable renaissance man in the music education sector.

Education and Early Career

Dr. Fish's foray into music began with learning the saxophone in Tucson, Arizona. His talent and dedication led him to pursue formal education in music, earning his Bachelor's and Master of Music degrees in classical and jazz performance from Western Michigan University.

After experiencing the music industry in Los Angeles, his passion for music and desire to learn more about the world of music led him to shift focus from performance to ethnomusicology. Dr. Fish earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, studying under the influential scholar of Japanese music, William Malm. His doctoral research included fieldwork in Tokyo, studying under the leader of a celebrated Shinto performance troupe, further expanding his knowledge and understanding of global music cultures. During this time, he performed with a musical collective sponsored by His Royal Highness Takamado no Miya and got to know the prince personally. 

In the years since he first traveled to Japan, Dr. Fish has continued his relationship with the country. He received a significant research grant from the Japan Foundation, allowing him to continue fieldwork in Shinto festival music. He also took many of his college students to Japan on field trips, including as part of the Cool Japan initiative sponsored by the Japanese government. His wife, Rumi, is Japanese, and they keep a house near Sendai. 

Dr. Fish in concert with Japan's Wakayama kai

Teaching Experience and Contributions to Music Education

Dr. Fish's passion for teaching was ignited during his time at Western Michigan University, where he was asked to take over a world music class. This experience led him to a fulfilling academic career, enriching countless students' lives with his expertise and passion for music.

As an Associate Professor of Music at Catawba College in North Carolina, he initiated and directed a flourishing degree concentration in popular music recognized as a "Best Music School" by In Tune, the country's leading music education magazine. His innovative curriculum catered to musicians underserved by higher education, providing them with the skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the music industry.

Association for Popular Music Education

During his tenure at Catawba College, Dr. Fish brought together other schools with similar programs in popular music to establish the Association for Popular Music Education (APME). It has grown into the leading educational organization in the field. Dr. Fish not only founded APME but served as one of its early presidents, further fortifying his commitment to music education. 

Association for Popular Music

Overcoming Stage Fright: The 5-Day Solution

One of Dr. Fish's most notable contributions to the field of music is his groundbreaking approach to overcoming stage fright. His method, known as the 5-Day Solution, offers a step-by-step guide to managing performance anxiety, based on the READ method he developed for his popular online course.

Dr. Fish's 5-Day Solution has been praised by professionals in the entertainment industry, including Mel Fair, Pat O'Connor, and Maddie A., an American Idol contestant, for its effectiveness in managing stage fright and unlocking peak performance potential.

A Versatile Performer and Artist

Dr. Fish's talent isn't confined to teaching and writing. He's an accomplished performer, with experiences ranging from playing saxophone in bands backing Ella Fitzgerald and Cher, to appearing at the Montreux Jazz Festival and even playing taiko drum at the Sanja Festival in Tokyo.

His journey as a singer-songwriter began at Western Michigan University, where he was influenced by the simplicity and relatability of artists strumming acoustic guitars and singing about their lives. This new dimension to his musical journey led him to the San Francisco Bay area in search of a live music scene and to further hone his performance skills.

The Last Troubadour

Dr. Fish's musical journey has taken another fascinating turn with his Renaissance Records debut album, the Last Troubadour

Just released, the album features a mix of songs from an original demo session in the 1990s and new songs that stands as a testament to his talent and versatility. It features original songs in an old-school folk-rock singer-songwriter vein made famous by such artists as Jim Croce, Cat Stevens, and James Taylor.

The multi-platinum David Kershenbaum (Tracy Chapman, Tori Amos, and Joe Jackson) produced the Last Troubadour, and it features top studio musicians from around the world. They include legendary bassist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and Carole King) and drummer Denny Fongheiser (Heart, Counting Crows, and Bruce Springsteen.

Doctor Fish * The Last Troubadour

The album's first single, "Harry Chapin," pays homage to the legendary singer-songwriter, showcasing Dr. Fish's storytelling prowess and musical mastery. Harry's son Jason has called it a "great tribute" to his father.

The Last Troubadour has received strong reviews from the music industry. Vents Magazine proclaimed it "One of the best albums we've heard in a long time." John Beaudin of Rock History Music wrote, "Thank you for making me stare at the speakers for the first time in years."

Music Educational Consulting


The latest chapter of Dr. Fish's professional life has been as a private independent educational consultant specializing in the acceptance and audition process for college-bound musicians. For three years, he consulted with students in all phases of the process as the Senior Consultant of Inside Music Schools (IMS). The work helped Dr. Fish build upon his already deep knowledge of music in higher education. He and the founder of IMS helped many students find acceptance at some of the top music schools in the country. At the same time, Dr. Fish brought significant improvements to IMS operations as its COO.

Dr. Fish left IMS to offer a better approach to music educational consulting through College Music Major (CMM). He wanted to provide a broader array of more affordable, collaborative, and flexible services. Private consulting remains at the heart of his work, but he is also bringing innovation through his DIY online course and the Young Guns online master class series featuring renowned musicians and music educators.

Doctor Fish is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association.