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First Class of Music Graduates are Aspiring Educators and Performers

While most of this Spring’s graduates will receive Associate in Arts degrees, some will be the first class of music students to earn the Direct Transfer Agreement in Music Associate Degree, which allows them to enroll at a four-year university as a junior and earn their bachelor’s as a music major.


The degree meets the first two years of requirements for music degrees at nearby four-year universities. To complete the degree, students need to enroll in performance ensembles and personal lessons for six quarters.


“They’re part of the Music department family and they’re going to be missed,” choir director Dr. Jacob Funk said.
Funk said the degree gives students a focus for their education and he can rely on students working on the degree to be a positive influence for other musicians. He said a quarter of the students in the Women’s Choral Ensemble, the Chorale and Concert Choir are pursuing a music-focused education. He said regardless of educational path, all choir members have similar learning experiences and goals within ensembles.

Funk said choir helps students train their ears learn ear training because choirs practice reproduce music one hears and sees. Choir and piano student Hailey Potts works as  is currently a private-lesson piano teacher. instructor She’s earning the music degree and said being in choir helps her with ear training.

Potts said Funk has helped her become a better singer and she enjoys that he is always happy to be at rehearsal. Orchestra director Dr. Don Appert teaches ear training courses and Potts said he has been another mentor for her.

After she graduates, she said, she plans to focus on welcoming her baby in September with her husband while continuing to teach piano and sing in ensembles.

Funk said it can be typical for music instructors to teach while playing in ensembles in their spare time, depending on if the level of education allows for that extra time commitment. He said music educators typically want a personal musical outlet and can need extra income, so they take performance jobs.

Graduating tuba and choir student Ryan Williamson attend Washington State University. Williamson is in the Chorale and Concert Choir this year and  Funk said he may continue to sing despite his focus on tuba.

Williamson said he enjoys the student community within the music hall and his network is larger since he is in so many ensembles. Williamson said choir is newer for him than band, where he always enjoys playing next to his bandmate and friend, Dennis Baciuc.

Baciuc, a second-year trumpet student, graduated from Hockinson High School in 2016. He’s a Vancouver local and said he enjoys attending college in his hometown while maintaining personal connections and jobs.

Baciuc has aspired to be a musician since high school and originally planned to attend Central Washington University because he earned a scholarship. Baciuc said he ultimately decided to enroll at Clark.
“I was really salty and bitter about it because lots of my friends were going to four-year universities,” he said. “As I’ve matured I see the benefits that Clark provides me.” Baciuc said the opportunities, community and mentors in the department make all the difference in his education.

While he didn’t come from a musical family, he said the community he found at Clark has helped develop his musicianship. He said all the band students work together and act as mentors for each other, in addition to Band Director  Rich Inouye.
“I got that perfect window,” he said about being in Inouye’s last graduating class. He said his education at Clark is comparable to a four-year university. Baciuc said the difference between an amature musician and a professional is refinement, and he has refined his own musicianship at Clark.

Baciuc said time commitment for the ensembles is a challenge especially for him, being in both bands and the orchestra. He said he is sometimes at Clark for 12 hours a day.

“We’re all best friends because we’re such a small program,” he said. Baciuc said leaving his community at Clark will be tough, but band students keep in touch through social media.

This Fall, Baciuc will attend Colorado State University in Fort Collins as a trumpet performance major. He said moving on to a university is bittersweet and he hopes his generation will bring a legacy of community.
During his time at Clark, Baciuc said, he has learned to not burn bridges because the music community is so small. He said, “that one handshake or phone call might lead to something big.”

About Luc Hoekstra (39 Articles)
Luc is a 24-year-old student journalist in Vancouver, Washington. They will graduate from Clark College in 2019 having earned an Associates of Arts degree and a News Media Studies certificate. In their news writing, Luc often covers the theater, music and art departments. Luc has been published in the Columbian and is an arts freelancer at the Portland Mercury. Luc enjoys reading Mark Twain and classic Greek mythology.

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