Students shine in the summer

As the academic year drew to a close, Greenfield Community College Music Department Chair Matthew Shippee announced several news items about student success that commends the department and its growth in recent years.

Of particular note are the summer plans of five other current students in the GCC Music Department. Four GCC music majors, ages 19-23 who began their academic music studies here, will be attending Jazz in July on scholarships this summer.  Jazz in July is an extensive two week program based at UMass Amherst that is focused on joining participants with Jazz artists in a learning intensive environment.  Jazz in July is centered on teaching improvisation and jazz styles while working to enrich the total musical experience of the participant at one of the leading summer jazz workshops in New England. David Shattuck of Heath (drum kit) and Daniel Babineau of Athol (piano) will be attending Jazz in July on full scholarships, and Daniel Vaccari of Royalston (drum kit) and Joel Cameron of Athol (bass) will be attending on half scholarships. The award of the scholarships for this nationally-recognized program is a statement about the strength of both these students’ abilities and determination and of the quality of the GCC Music Department Program.
Other accomplishments in the GCC Music Department include:

  • A 675% increase in number of students majoring in music in the past five years;
  • Nearly ten times as many students enrolled in the Applied Music Program (private lessons) in the same period;
  • Two students from this year’s graduating class transferred to the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, as well as other 2010 graduates transferring to UMass, Hampshire, UMass Lowell, Northeastern and Keene State College; and a former music student;
  • A former GCC Music Department student who went on to obtain a Master’s Degree is now teaching at the Pioneer Valley Chinese Immersion Charter School in Hadley where she has been successfully integrating music improvisation as a tool in her teaching;
  • Another Music Department graduate who pursued a self-designed major at UMass studied Brazilian culture and drumming and integrated a year of study in Brazil into his coursework, now works as a professional musician and educator for the international community service learning initiative, Windsor Mountain.
  • Two groups of current music majors have formed out-of-school jazz/contemporary bands that have begun playing paid gigs at local venues and plan to continue over the summer.  Check your local listings for “Flabbagaster” based in Brattleboro and “Nobodies Fat” based in Athol.
  • GCC Music Department faculty continue to stand out as active musicians in the Pioneer Valley jazz music scene.  This summer, readers are encouraged to stop in and hear pianist Jeff D’Antona’s trio performing every Monday at the Sierra Grille Restaurant in Northampton or trumpeter Geoff Cunningham’s group, “The Amherst Jazz Orchestra” performing every alternate Monday at the Amherst Brewing Company.

The Music Department Chair is not surprised at the array and depth of accomplishments from all of the students and faculty from the GCC Music Program.  “This is a reflection of both the hard work and dedication our students demonstrate to participate in musical training at the highest levels, and of the supportive environment for musicians of all genres that the GCC Music Department has evolved to providing in recent years,” said Shippee.

For more information about the Greenfield Community College Music Department and its programs, visit the GCC website at