Community colleges are often viewed as an institution for students to attend prior to a four year university, giving them easier accessibility and preparing them for the future at a more affordable cost. Here at Suffolk, the music program at the Ammerman campus has created a name for itself as one of the leading programs offered at a community college in the entire country.
Along with course offerings and various other opportunities for students enrolled in the program, they are also able to embrace a unique learning environment which focuses on preparing them for their future at a four-year university and career in music somewhere down the road. With the program housing nine different ensembles, it provides students with a sequential music degree program that will enable them to have an easy transition into a future university upon receiving their associates and completing their credits. The music program offers a variety of courses such as education, conducting, theory, composition, performance, therapy, arranging, songwriting, law, and audio recording. It also offers music courses for non-majors as well as modernized classes with seemingly interesting titles, such as “The History of Rock n’ Roll.”
All courses offered in the Music Department lead to an associate’s degree in the field, allowing graduates to transfer into a Bachelor’s program as a junior. Some schools that students have continued their musical journeys at include Mannes College The New School for Music, Stony Brook University, Queens College, Ithaca College, The Crane School of Mus
ic, Westminster Choir College, and Berklee College of Music.
Professor Craig Boyd is the Academic Chair and College Coordinator of music here at Suffolk, and seems to be nothing but passionate, vibrant and enthusiastic when speaking of the program and its success and progress throughout the years. Boyd, who is an Alumni of Suffolk and also attended Berklee College of Music post-graduation, began working at the Suffolk in 1987 and became chairman of the music department in 1994. By 2005, he was the college coordinator of the music department for all three of the Suffolk campuses and has been pleased with the growth and improvement of it ever since.
“Music ensembles are enrolled by students, college wide.” says Boyd. “Here at Suffolk we house most ensembles at the Ammerman campus, but we outgrew ourselves in recent years and are now working on expanding our program to the other campuses.” At the Ammerman campus, the music department provides recital and practice rooms along with a piano and computer lab in the Southampton building open for use by the students and faculty. Due to the success of the program, the college is working on adding these facilities to the other campuses as well.
The program’s success is directly stemmed from the hard work put into it by the professors, faculty and students enrolled. Not only are they scholars with a music background, but they are also active conductors, composers and performers. The fact that they are all so active in music outside of Suffolk results in even more credibility to their teaching, and greatly benefits their classroom work when supported by their practical experiences with the music field in the real-world. Jimmy Vilardi, a sophomore at Suffolk completely agreed when asked about the faculty of the music program being helpful and informative.
“The staff in the department is really great and all have an extensive background in music, whether it’s in performance, composition or anything in between.” Explains Vilardi. “Every student takes applied music in the department, which is private lessons once a week with an instructor to prepare you for your jury at the end of the semester. Although starting after this year you will now need to audition for applied music, but the private lessons adds to the intimacy that you get within the program. Since it is not a huge department, you get lots of one-on-one time with the teachers which can help you to learn and grow as a student so much.”
The program also houses a diverse variety of students from all different backgrounds, allowing them to be exposed to different types of approaches and personalities when dealing with the industry.
“What I like about it is that being at a community college you see a very diverse group of students age wise and academically.” Said Vilardi. “There are some people in this program who have been playing and learning music since they were small kids and then there are some who started the program not knowing a thing about music theory or how to play an instrument. I’d say I’m somewhere in the middle, playing piano for a couple years but really only getting serious about it this last year.”
As any major, the music program requires a lot of dedication and hard work but seems to be extremely helpful to those passionate about perusing a career in the industry. Although there are different types of students in the program with different career goals and ideas, it is known to provide them with proper knowledge and experience for the future. Many alumni of Suffolk’s music program work as public school teachers in the community, as well as on-staff ajuncts at surrounding colleges. Some Alumni even belong The Metropolitan Opera House, a leading establishment for successful musicians.
“We have such a super great department!” Says Boyd enthusiastically. “I have a lot of confidence in my people.”
The Music Department recently finished up yet another successful year with their spring concert. It was held last Thursday and Friday, May 3rd and 4th in the Shea Theater of the Ammerman Campus.