Things are happening at SUNY Schenectady’s College of Songs and Dr . Christopher Brellochs, the new dean, couldn’t be happier.
“Our fall 2022 enrollment was up 13% compared to drop 2021 and our spring 2023 enrollment is upward 17% in comparison to springtime 2022, ” he said.
That means the department had 113 music majors this year when the spring term opened on Tuesday. While most of those musicians are vocalists, guitarists or pianists, because of initiatives in the curriculum, the particular school is now attracting students interested in composing, becoming audio engineers, working in musical theater plus teaching music.
Much of this new direction comes from Brellochs, who became dean in May 2021.
“I was chair of the academy of music at SUNY Dutchess and had been aware for 14 years about this school of songs through Bill Meckley, ” Brellochs stated. “I has been very impressed with what they were doing. ”
When the opening for dean came up, he immediately applied. Because the school had been recovering from the pandemic and a slow enrollment decline, one of the questions he was asked has been: could he be a visionary?
“I knew the school experienced a long history associated with music — it’s been accredited since 1984 — and the administration was highly supportive, ” Brellochs mentioned. “I had been interested and intrigued to take it to a new chapter, so I gave them some ideas. ”
One of his first was that there was no musical theater offered.
“They needed in order to have that to expose college students to be able to study… to be a triple threat, ” he said.
Starting last spring, students were allowed to take one-on-one lessons not only in classical music but music for musical theatre, jazz, R& B. Coming in the next year or even so is foundation work for those who want to learn to act plus dance within musicals.
“The school also didn’t want to be in an ivory tower where just music that was written 100 years ago was taught, ” he stated. “Composition has to be related to contemporary mediums as a business, such as used on Amazon, television, film, or video games. You need to stay current and relevant to technology. I want to welcome pop composers in order to SUNY. ”
So Brellochs suggested composers study the latest in digital programs such as Pro Tools to learn to write jingles or work in audio recording. He also learned that the program Abelton Live was not only a good software with regard to composition but also for lighting cues for live shows — a great tool regarding bands.
Some learners might just want to study intended for a year and then go to function in their related field. There are now two options depending on whether a student is headed into producing or teaching.
“The one-year certificate makes it easier to expand into the two-year program. But the brand new requirement will be that the study must be on a collegiate level and the particular student needs to take a jury in front of a panel as a good audition if they wish to move in to a degree system, ” Brellochs said.
The school, however , still only offers a two-year associate’s degree. This is fine for those students that either due to the fact of financial concerns or are not interested or even ready for the more competitive performance levels generally expected at conservatories such while the Eastman School associated with Music or the Juilliard School. A community college is also unique in other ways.
“If you want solo opportunities with an ensemble or chamber group, you don’t have to contend with upper class competition. And if you want to major in electric bass, for example , we allow that. Most music schools don’t, ” Brellochs mentioned. “With the particular school’s size, which over the decades offers averaged between 100 and 170 students, you won’t get lost in the crowd like in a conservatory. And teachers talk in order to each other. They’re always looking for opportunities for outstanding students. ”
Sometimes, too, many college students do decide to go on to more competing situations plus a four-year degree. The most popular transfers are usually to SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Purchase. Some learners have furthermore gone to Ithaca School of Music.
But Brellochs got something else inside mind.
“We needed new ideas on how to reach out to the community, to local schools, ” he said.
Allyson Keyser, the school’s trumpet/brass teacher and conductor of the wind outfit, began to go into nearby public schools to help with their ensembles, give training, get the kids to like to practice and generally make music exciting.
“They see that will the Schenectady School associated with Music provides an amazing faculty. They take the college seriously because a place to go. It lets the local educators and students see exactly what SUNY is doing, ” Brellochs said.
This was further expanded to creating the first High School Jazz Competition, which the School of Music ran last spring. Working along with A Place for Jazz, which recently finished its fall season at the college, the competition was open to all enrolled students in nine Capital Region schools for any instrument or voice. There was no entry fee. The four judges included Grammy-nominated pianist Geoffrey Keezer, vocalist Gillian Margot plus SUNY instructors Dylan Canterbury and Kevin Grudecki.
After a couple associated with rounds over the summer and early fall, the particular grand prize winner has been announced inside October. He was Niskayuna High College drummer Kiemon Noel, who else got the recording session, a $1, 000 scholarship to SUNY Schenectady like music main, and a concert date May 3, 2023 with the college’s jazz ensemble. The two runner-ups — Niskayuna High School tenor saxophonist Nathan Yan and Guilderland Higher School alto saxophonist Bohdan Kinai — each received the same scholarship amount as well as the Might 3 performance date.
And what with all this positive momentum, there is one more success story and this through an alumnus: recording engineer Charlie Post (Class of 1993) obtained a 2021 Grammy Award for his work with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra on its recording of Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 13 “Babi Yar. ”
In a profile on the particular college website, Post credited his SUNY Schenectady education and songs faculty with preparing him to ulimately transfer in order to Fredonia.
“Mr. [Brett] Wery was a great influence, ” Post stated from the former music school dean. “He was a fantastic professor plus he taught me saxophone as well as clarinet. It had been amazing preparation for my Fredonia audition, ” this individual said.
A music history course along with Meckley sparked Charlie’s interest in reading music scores. “Dr. Meckley got all of us really excited about orchestral music, ” he or she said. “I would borrow scores from the music library to follow while listening to large-scale symphonic works at home. I learned notation, instrument groupings, how to read melodies and harmonies, plus orchestration. These skills propelled my career recording orchestras and helped me to be a strong candidate to get my present position. ”
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