Study music in sunny California: The California College of Music
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Study music in sunny California: The California College of Music

California is one of the few U.S. states with the distinction of having hundreds of songs written about it. Music lovers may be familiar with quite a few of them, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Going To California,” the Beach Boys’ “California Girls,” and even 2Pac & Dr. Dre’s “California Love.”

Southern California, in particular, is not only famed for its balmy weather and breath-taking Pacific coastline, but is also recognized as the beating heart of the music scene in the state, where it hosts some of the most popular music festivals in the country, like Coachella, Northern Lights, and Outside Lands.

Known as “SoCal” among locals, the area is such a haven for the creative and musically-inclined that it has produced many famous musicians who grew up or started their careers here, ranging from rock duo Best Coast to rapper Kendrick Lamar.

As such, the state is home to many great higher institutions of learning for musicians, such as the California College of Music (CCM). Founded in 1998, the college flourished under the guidance of the late legendary trombonist Wayne Henderson (founder of the Jazz Crusaders) and Grammy Award-winning recording engineer Reggie Dozier. Thanks to their experience in the industry, they were able to create a positive, beneficial learning environment for those looking to pursue careers in music.

What is it about the Golden State that keeps musicians so inspired? If you’re an aspiring musician, read on to discover why studying music in SoCal, and the California College of Music in particular, will give you the thriving environment you need to build a solid foundation or reach greater heights in your musical career.

A stimulating environment

Located in sunny Pasadena, the heart of the global music industry, students will have access to many nearby recording studios and live performance venues. The CCM campus is filled with musicians from different backgrounds and specializations, giving students the opportunity to make valuable industry connections and find their foothold in the music scene. Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood are also just minutes away, so international artists are constantly performing nearby.

Students will be surrounded by peers and mentors who are just as passionate about their art – those who live and breathe music. Music career advisor and consultant Angela Myles Beeching advises students to find a mentor and get involved in challenging projects, as she said music majors named these two experiences as the most impactful for them in shaping their future direction.

“From watching hundreds of students make their way through degree programs and out into the world, I’ve observed that those who have had these experiences are the ones who tend to fare the best in transitioning to the professional world,” she wrote.

Learn from the finest

CCM aims to empower future musicians with the skills and confidence to succeed in the contemporary music industry. With a range of programs on offer to suit students with varying needs, courses are taught by a distinguished faculty of experienced music industry professionals who teach in ideal classroom sizes and professional performing ensembles.

Students are taught by world-renowned professional musicians with proven track records and a firm understanding of the complex expectations and challenges that students will face in the industry. Utilizing proven educational methods, the college’s talented and qualified instructors give students thoughtful personal attention, and engage in continual self-evaluation.

Cutting-edge curriculum

At CCM, students will learn extensive and practical real-world skills to help them to succeed in the modern music industry. Technical development, ear training, private lessons, and ensemble playing give students useful hands-on experience in the craft of music.

For example, the Diploma Program is a rigorous and challenging one-year curriculum designed to produce musicians with masterful knowledge of their instruments, as well as the business acumen to navigate the music industry successfully. Music business courses, sight-reading, transcription, and improvisation are a few of the areas of study emphasized in the program.

Those who already have experience in the industry, but are looking to brush up their skills, can consider CCM’s Artist Development Program, which is designed with talented recording artists, singer-songwriters, and producers/engineers in mind. Musicians who wish to spend time developing their work in the studio and taking electives customized to their personal interests will find the program perfectly suited to their needs. Mentors will be on hand to help students develop their own unique sound, giving guidance and production tips throughout the recording process.

State-of-the-art facilities

To complement its comprehensive curriculum, CCM gives students access to the best equipment and facilities. Students can use the large ensemble performance room (the “live room”) equipped with amplifiers, keyboards, drums & percussion, a PA system, microphone stands, music stands and whiteboards. This multi-purpose room also doubles as a live tracking room for recording sessions and master classes.

Besides that, there is also an isolation booth, equipped with a keyboard, a PA system, microphone stands, and music stands; a piano room equipped with a grand piano and multiple electronic pianos; a studio control room with an Apple computer with both Pro Tools, Logic Pro, and Reason software, as well as full outboard gear including Avalon and Presonus microphone preamps, a MOTU interface, effects processing units, compressors and limiters; a mic closet featuring a wide range of microphones to suit a variety of professional recording applications; and a music technology room equipped with Apple computers, MIDI keyboard controllers, sound modules, Apple Logic Pro, Reason, Pro Tools music production software, and MIDI interfaces.

Valuable, transferable skills

In a 2013 roundtable discussion, experts from higher education and the arts industry in the U.K. came to a general consensus that studying music at higher education level “equips students with a spectrum of transferable skills that are of inestimable value in the workplace”, reported The Guardian.

“The qualities one would aspire for in a work-force suitable to meet the challenges of today’s economy are all those found in a music graduate,” said one commentator.

Among these skills and qualities are the ability to collaborate and analyze, a robust work ethic, empathy, innovation, and performing well under pressure – all of which are considered de rigueur in any decent music student.

Upon graduation from CCM’s programs, students will possess a well-rounded professional skill set that includes technical proficiency, fluency in music theory, a broad working knowledge of music history and popular styles, a disciplined work ethic, and a confident, optimistic attitude.

Fantastic graduate opportunities

According to the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), a survey involving over 92,000 arts alumni across the U.S., 62 percent of respondents rated the SoCal area as a “very good” place to pursue an artistic career, with 60 percent of them currently pursuing a professional career in their art. Out of the total pool of respondents, 13 percent had studied music performance and out of that, 60 percent of them had rated “excellent” levels of education satisfaction, with most going on to become professional musicians, private music tutors, or music teachers in schools.

So if you’re looking for a college where you can hone your craft and sharpen your skills while making useful connections for your career, then the California College of Music hits all right notes. For more information on which program would be best suited for you, get in touch with one of the college’s friendly representatives today!

Feature image courtesy of California College of Music.

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