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Hitting Higher Notes: Music Department Creates Transfer Degree

The Independent Issue 4 Article Music Transfer Degree

Clark’s music department now offers an associate music transfer degree. The degree delegates an agreement between Northwest community colleges and 19 baccalaureate institutions in Washington and Oregon.

“The state board for all community colleges is responsible for creating transfer degrees that can be implemented in all community colleges across the state,” Miles Jackson, dean of Social Sciences and Fine Arts, said.

Music students are required to take a course load of 102 credits, with an emphasis on music theory and ear training,  while math and English remain prerequisites.

Music professor and director Don  Appert said English professor Gerry Smith represented Clark as the President of the Faculty Association of Community and Technical Colleges on a state committee that levies transfer degrees for community colleges.

The Independent Issue 4 Article Music Transfer Degree


“We had to get the committee to approve the terms of the state. Which is also why the general requirements are still the same,” he said.

Ronnie McPherson plays tuba in Concert Band and bass trombone in Jazz Band. With the new degree, he said that his classes became tailored to his goal of being a music major.

“This music degree shows a bright future for Clark,” McPherson said.

Program coordinator Shelly Williams said the degree makes the program more streamline: “We’re not wasting their resources or their time taking extra stuff they don’t need.”

Williams hopes the music department can reestablish a portion of the 15 classes that were lost during a major budget cut leading up to the summer of 2016, which eliminated the department’s summer classes.

The new degree comes with changes to the program.

Appert said the theory and ear training course has been reduced to one credit, but the curriculum is the same.

“The other change really was that we had to add a piano component because most of the four-year schools have some kind of piano proficiency that they require,” Appert said.

He said students will have to take two piano classes unless the student is a pianist. They can take applied lessons in piano and have that requirement waived.

When transferring, music students audition for the schools they wish to enter. These auditions affect how that college sees each student’s credits.

“Let’s say they took music history for instance, some universities are going to allow it and some aren’t, but where you are in the process with them might be changed by the audition,” Williams said.

Music professor Dr. Jacob Funk said four-year universities almost always have students audition or do diagnostic testing when transferring.

Jackson, dean of SOFA, sees the degree as a great opportunity for music students intending to transfer to a four year college. “That’s really who it’s intended to benefit,” He said.

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