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A Newsletter for Alumni, Parents, and Friends of Greenfield Community College and the GCC Foundation

GCC Music Program offers an innovative approach to music education

Posted on Monday May 12th 2014

Music students perform in the Cohn Family Dining Commons last fall
Music students perform in the Cohn Family Dining Commons last fall
Music students perform in the Cohn Family Dining Commons last fall

Over the past ten years, GCC has developed a unique capacity to provide music education for students seeking to acquire the skills and vision they need to fulfill their educational, professional and life goals.

Music students perform in the Cohn Family Dining Commons last fall

Music students perform in the Cohn Family Dining Commons last fall

Music Department Chair Matthew Shippee states, “We’re fortunate that GCC has fostered the growth of a Music Department intent on both access and innovative teaching strategies. Most colleges don’t provide the academic bridge that ours does, helping students realize their creative potential in music even though they may arrive at college with little or no formal music training.” The Music Department does this by combining a complete degree program in Liberal Arts studies with a concentration in musical performance and theoretical study. Shippee says, “Our department excels at teaching students how to be creative as musical artists within whatever technical limitations they may have on their instrument at the moment. We ask students to work hard to constantly expand technically, but we do that along with teaching what already is possible in the limitless realm of sonic and human expression.”

Students have expressed interest in learning and training in the use of Music Technology. Current curriculum in Music Technology focuses on the use of industry- standard technology and tools for use in the Audio Recording and Production course- applicable in sound production for music, film, video gaming, and live venue production. With plans to build on success in this area, the Music Department envisions providing students with a foundation in music production techniques that opens up a whole new world of possibilities for meaningful employment in the industry, as well as increased opportunities for competitive transfer to four-year institutions to further their music education.

Music Department faculty Matthew Shippee (Chair) and Geoffrey Cunningham

Music Department faculty Matthew Shippee (Chair) and Geoffrey Cunningham

Examples of student success that commend the department and its growth in recent years include:

  • A student transferred to Evergreen State University (WA), completed a Bachelor’s in electronic music last year, completed a teaching internship in Beijing this year, and will pursue graduate work at Berklee in their new “Music Technology Innovation” program. He wrote recently, “I would like to thank [GCC], from the bottom of my heart, for welcoming me as a student when I was at my most timid, and for giving me the push that I needed back out into the world. Without [GCC’s] influence in music classes and advising, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I won’t ever forget it.”
  • A Spring2014 graduate who has been accepted and offered a scholarship to attend the University of Southern Maine School of Music. He will study bass performance and says, “When I came to GCC, I knew I loved music but didn’t think of myself as a good student, and I played guitar not bass. High school was rough and I didn’t know what to do about school. Now I’m totally psyched to be a student and to be able to study what I love at a highly regarded four-year school of music.”
  • Two current music majors are interning at the popular recording studio Northfire Recording in Amherst.
  • One has also begun to engineer his own sessions, a significant mark of advancement in the audio internship world that leads to beginnings of professional stature.
  • In addition, GCC Music students have transferred to institutions including Berklee College of Music, UMass, Hampshire, UMass Lowell, Northeastern, Westfield State, and Keene State College Music Programs;
  • Music Department students are performing frequently this spring and enhancing campus life through concerts, jam sessions, and providing music for events such as the Art Department Exhibit’s opening night celebration and at the GCC Admissions Open House.

For more information about the GCC Music Department, call 413-775- 1228 or visit

GCC welcomes GSB President John Howland

howlandGCC was pleased to welcome John Howland, the new President & CEO of Greenfield Savings Bank, to his first visit on campus March 26th. He is pictured here in front of the entrance to the GCC Greenfield Savings Bank Math Studio – thank you, GSB, for all of your support of GCC students!

Foundation welcomes new Board President


Robyn Provost, Vice President of Mowry & Schmidt, Inc., General Contractors, has been elected President of the Board of Directors of the GCC Foundation. Robyn has served on the board for five years and is a longtime volunteer fundraiser for the annual campaign. Her work with their family-operated construction business, based in Greenfield since 1947, has made her a familiar face to many companies and individuals across Franklin County. Robyn lives in Heath with her husband, Tom Carlson.