NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

NECC music program

Students and faculty weigh in

NECC’s unique music program and enthusiastic professors are helping students gain experience in a quickly changing field of study. Recent additions to the music program as well as transfer agreements with local four-year schools make the music major here appealing, but some students say they are unimpressed with the quality of the equipment.

“Northern Essex is one of only a handful of community colleges in the state to offer a music degree, and it’s the best,” said Dr. Christina Dietrich. Dietrich has a doctorate in music, and has been teaching piano and music theory lessons since 1994 at NECC.  Her experience as a music faculty member at Northern Essex, a piano instructor at Wachusett Community College, and co-chair of the piano department at Indian Hill Music School in Littleton gives her a unique perspective on the music degrees at many of the surrounding schools.

According to Dietrich, what’s different about this community college is that it has a full music major that’s transferable to many four year schools like UMass Lowell and Westfield State. “I wish that more people were aware of the music program here, so that more students could take advantage of the high quality instruction that we offer,” she said.

This semester, several new computers equipped with audio interfaces and studio monitors were added to the music room to replace some of the aging recording technology that was being used previously.

Joe Paquin is a student and multi-instrumentalist, who has taken five music courses during his two years at Northern Essex. In regards to the quality of his classes, Paquin said ,“I could tell that the program was kind of struggling, but the teachers really care about what they’re doing.” Paquin said that the resources and equipment at the music students’ disposal don’t match the enthusiasm that they have for their major. “Most of the equipment has seen better days. From an educational perspective, there are certainly some things left to be desired,” he said.

Music Technology student Troy LaBranche has been here for two semesters. LaBranche has a passion for music, so he came to NECC to learn as much as he could about it to get ahead in the music industry. “I see the music technology certificate as a way to accumulate the knowledge and skills that I’ll use as an audio engineer,” he said.

Student Chris Pitcher is only in his second week of school here, but has been playing music for the past 10 years. Pitcher loves playing trumpet and wanted to find an affordable way to get a degree in music studies. “I feel like the administration doesn’t really understand what’s necessary for students in our program- we shouldn’t have to fight to get our pianos tuned,” he said.