NECC Observer

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

NECC Music Program

By Sarah Tiso

The Music Department at NECC is a small yet strong department that is searching for a voice and proper space on campus. With countless problems in this program, it can seem that this department doesn’t supply a good education for a music students. However, this program is a stepping stone for young musicians that want to go on and make a career out of music.

Dr. Langer, the Music Department Director, said, “What I want to see happen is that people in the college and the community see that we have an active and engaging program.”

Ingrid Marstaller, 74, attended NECC as a music major from 2006 to 2012, and is now a music theory, aural skills and piano tutor at NECC. She said, “The music department has excellent teachers but is being undermined by the administration through pay cuts and other restrictions. Both Dr. Langer and Professor Dietrich, a piano instructor, work very hard to maintain the quality of instruction.”

Lindsey Michaud, a 20 year old music major, said NECC offers “four semesters of theory, aural skills, applied music, and more. Other community colleges only offer a couple of music classes, not enough to complete a degree. These classes are also transferable to lots of state schools.”

It isn’t the program that needs expansion — music majors need the room to play and sing comfortably, along with proper equipment.

“My goal has been to produce the best quality program that we can possibly offer with what we have. Students that come here to major in music should be able to transfer successfully to any four-year institution they choose because they have been well prepared,” said Langer.

Michaud is observing the conditions of the department as a student, and said, “The pianos are incredibly out of tune which is due to the lack of climate control in these rooms. The air is dry, breathing in to play an instrument or sing dries your throat.”

Marstaller says, “We have to (ask) for money to replace defective keyboards and benches, getting pianos tuned and keeping computers running. Our hardware is outdated and
several of the practice room pianos don’t always work.”

The classroom TC220 is all the department has for ensemble rehearsals. Michaud said, “The walls and ceiling are not constructed with the proper acoustics so the sound we produce is
pretty crappy honestly. We also do not have a proper performance hall or auditorium.”

Feelings of being isolated from the rest of the school is a consistent tone in this department as well. Marstaller said, “It has always seemed to me that the music department was an afterthought and not considered important.”

“Being a music student, I don’t feel included as much as students of different majors,” said Michaud. “Some of the faculty on campus even seem to not take us seriously because we choose to major in music. If we had a performing arts center, I think people would recognize us more and realize that we are just as important as any other student.”

Langer says that students “often have to take more classes and are expected to be active as students as well as developing and performing musicians both individually and within groups.”

Michaud said, “I am so glad to have actually been able to be a music student, taking 6 or more music courses each semester, and receive a fantastic education at an affordable cost.”

Funding is an issue for all the departments on campus, but Marstaller said it’s more than that. “I would like to see the college administration support the music program both financially and by promoting it throughout the campus as well as in the advertising. Flyers don’t usually even mention that it exists.”

Michaud said that the department needs high schools to know about the department.

“None of us knew about this program before deciding to go to NECC. I didn’t know until browsing through a course catalog. By the time I graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in music education, I will only have about $15,000 in loans to pay off. Anyone who went to a 4 year university right away is probably looking at over $80,000 they will have to pay off. That is what this program has done for me.”