Welcome to the Music Department!

Our department is based on a "start where you are" philosophy of music education.

That means we don't require auditions to enter our program because we believe everyone should have the opportunity to pursue college-level music study with individualized goals in mind.  A range of advanced, intermediate, and beginner level students come to our program to get what they need to move ahead the next steps.

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Prior academic experience isn’t always a measure of talent, and not everyone discovers their desire to study music seriously before they are 18 years old. We know that and we provide an option for those students to pursue their passion for music and to discover what’s possible in an academic setting. Our teachers are dedicated to creating individual student success through challenging and inspiring collaboration with their students.  That atmosphere is everywhere in our department.

Our students have a reputation for learning a lot in a relatively short period of time.

We've seen dozens of students who could not have been accepted at a 4-year music school become ready and able to make that transition after 2-3 years at GCC.

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Whatever your individual goals may be, time spent studying music at GCC is quality time exploring the rich world of music and personal musicianship. Our students tell us they benefit from that as musicians, as students, and as people no matter what direction they choose beyond GCC.

The music major at GCC is unique in the way it blends core music study, elective music study, and liberal arts study in a small department with so much individual attention.

We primarily offer a diverse range of courses in Jazz and Contemporary music studies, along with audio recording coursework and opportunities.  While many GCC students from other majors take music classes as electives, there are 20-30 students enrolled as Liberal Arts/Music concentration majors each year.

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These students have chosen to concentrate their elective courses in music while completing all of the important liberal arts requirements for a broad foundation of learning.  Upon completion of the degree, they are prepared with abilities that allow them to choose between many paths beyond GCC.  Most of our majors go on to major in some area of music beyond GCC, while others choose to go on to non-music areas of study or possibly a music minor.  Our Liberal Arts/Music major fulfills all of the MassTransfer requirements, as well.  For some students it can also make sense to take only music classes at GCC as a means to ready themselves for transfer to a four-year music school.

Flexibility is part of creativity.

Our national economic and job climate is tough.  Being a musician has never been an easy road, and it doesn’t appear to be getting easier anytime soon.  The well-rounded abilities that come through liberal arts study are more important than ever, since success in today's world requires us to be more and more adept at creatively responding to situations and communicating with others.

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People who can apply those skills in the work they do (including music) stand out in any field.  Our Liberal Arts/Music degree option is designed to foster this development in students both in and out of class.  We are a place that doesn’t leave students on their own to solve the “how-does-music-fit-in-my-life puzzle” later on.  We help to begin solving it now in a variety of ways.  First and foremost, by teaching that musical creativity is a practice of recognizing possibilities and being flexible in how to respond to those possibilities.  What works best in the band or in the recording studio often works best in the rest of life, too.

For information on how to become involved in our department’s dynamic and growing community, feel free to email or call me anytime.

- Matthew

Matthew Ruby Shippee
Professor and Chair
Music Department
(413) 775-1228