The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

The student news site of El Camino College

El Camino College The Union

Striking a chord with the Applied Music program

Theatre arts major Kenneth Castro sings and plays ballad covers of pop songs in the Music Building on May 31. Castro said he’s been playing “on-and-off” for five years and uses the Music Building’s practice rooms to strengthen his skills. (Khoury Williams | The Union)

A set background is dimmed, and an instrument is placed before a video camera. For several students, this is for an audition to enter the one-of-a-kind Applied Music program.

When Jonathan Bass, a theory and composition major at El Camino, emailed his audition tape to the program, submitting his best one took him many takes.

However, if you ask him to perform in front of an audience now, he will concede he feels considerably more at ease.

All thanks to the Applied Music program, which is aimed to help students enhance their musical skills and earn their associate degrees.

“I put a lot of time and practice into the audition because I wanted to show how dedicated I was,” Bass said. “Now, if I had to redo the audition, I would show off how I would normally play; I would not play reserved and be a bit more risk-taking. The program has made me more confident in my playing abilities.”

Yet, enrollment declined following the COVID-19 pandemic. There is still hope recruitment will rebound due to a return to campus and more interested students will enroll in the four-semester music major courses.

Jonathan Minei, assistant professor of music and guitar studies, believes the program’s transition from Zoom lessons to in-person practices contributed to the drop-off.

“To capture the kind of chit-chat about careers and music where the music industry is heading is really valuable, and that’s really hard to capture online,” Minei said.

Students participating in the Applied Music program are expected to perform numerous times throughout the semester to enhance their technical and performance talents. However, there are other advantages to the program that assist with this.

Director of jazz studies David Moyer views the program as an opportunity for music majors to improve on all aspects of their career path.

“Students that take applied music are getting private instruction, building portfolios and learning how to market themselves professionally to be professional musicians,” Moyer said. “It’s really an intensive program.”

Usually, private lessons could prove to be costly for students. However, the program does not.

“If you were to go outside this program for an hour of private lessons, you’re looking at spending $75 to $100 an hour,” Moyer said. “In the program, you’re getting those same lessons for $48, which is a huge value.”

This is a considerable value students such as music major Catherine Nunley are taking full advantage of.

“There are private lessons that are offered. It’s one of the best deals you can get,” Nunley said. “It has been really great. I had a great private instructor, and I learned a lot from him.”

Bass, who has participated in the program for a few semesters, hopes future music students will take advantage of its offers.

“Take as many chances as you can because you never know when an opportunity can come up that can completely change your life,” Bass said. “If not for the Applied Music program, I would probably not be as much of a musician as I am now.”

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