Christopher Robert Morgan, Ph.D. Music Advising
Home * Composition * Synthesis * New Music Ensemble • Audio Electronics

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between MUSI Beginning Piano I and MUSP Introductory Group Piano I?
A: Beginning Piano I is part of the Theory Sequence that all music majors take during their first two years of college. These traditional music majors take Beginning Piano I along with Aural Skills I and Theory I. Because of this, MUSI 1301 Music Fundamentals is a prerequisite for Beginning Piano I and not for Commercial Piano I. Because of this, students who have not completed Music Fundamentals will not succeed in Beginning Piano I. Commercial Piano I is intended for students who have the following traits:

So, if you're just interested in learning to play piano then sign up for Commercial Piano I.

Q: What is the difference between Theory I and Commercial Music Theory I?
A: Commercial Music Theory I is part of the Workforce Education degree called the Associate of Arts (AAS) in Commercial Music at Collin College. Traditional music theory I begins with part writing rules and analysis focusing primarily on 18th-century classical music in the style of J.S. Bach. Commercial Music Theory I, on the other hand, focuses on contemporary writing styles of pop, R&B and jazz and as such deals with standard chord progressions such as those found in Blues, the ii-V7-I, etc. One striking differenc involves modulations. For example, in traditional music theory, modulations are covered in the second semester after exploring the concept of preparing the modulation to a closely related key by means of a secondary dominant. In Commercial Music Theory, modulations are dealt with more simply and quickly since contemporary music writing doesn't follow traditional music composition style traits.

Q: What is WECM?
A: WECM stands for Workforce Education Course Manual. WECM courses differ from traditional transfer courses in that they are intended to train students to work immediately in the "real world". As such, they are not intended to transfer to traditional four-year universities. However, many undergraduate institutions are beginning to accept these courses so always check with the school to which you plan on transferring. The Department of Music offers a WECM degree called the Associates of Applied Science in Commercial Music. The coursework includes Audio Engineering, Songwriting, Commercial Music Theory, MIDI sequencing, Synthesis, Live Sound, Audio Electronics, Music Business and Marketing and private lessons on instruments such as piano, guitar, bass, voice and drums. Basically, in Collin's music program, WECM and Commercial Music are synonomous.

Q: What are Applied Lessons?
A: Applied lessons are simply private lessons. These one-on-one lessons are a standard part of every traditional music major's education. A students main area of study is called their Principal Applied or Concentration. A music major takes one-hour private lessons in their principal applied area such as piano, voice, guitar, etc. Music majors who are non-performace majors (those who want to graduate with a degree in music education, music history, music theory, music therapy and compostion) are still required to have a principal applied area. Students apply for admission to all four-year institution's music programs by auditioning on their principal applied area.

Q: What is the difference between Principal and Secondary Applied Lessons?
A: Let's start with the similarities: both are one-on-one lessons and in order to qualify for taking the lessons, students must attend the weekly departmental recitals held on Wednesdays at noon as well as maintain enrollment in an ensemble and perform for juries at the end of the semester. Principal Applied Lessons are one-hour, one-on-one private lessons intended for music majors in their primary area of concentration (voice, piano, guitar, etc. but also including some non-performance areas such as conducting, sonwriting, arranging, and composition). Secondary Applied Lessons are half-hour, one-on-one private lessons

Q:What is the difference beween MUAP Applied Lessons and MUSP Applied Lessons?
A: MUAP lessons are for traditional music majors planning to transfer to a four-year institution. As such, the MUAP lessons often focus on traditional techniques and repertoire such as 18th and 19th century music. MUSP lessons are not intended for transfer and they focus on contemporary styles and technique such as jazz, blues, R&B and pop.

Q: I want to be a songwriter and music producer or audio engineer. Where do I start?
A: The best approach is to begin by enrolling in Audio Engineering I, Introductory Group Piano I, Songwriting I, and MUSI 1301 Fundamentals.

Q: I want to get a four-year degree in audio engineering or a related commercial music field such as songwriting.
A: Currently, there are very few schools in Texas that offer these degrees.
The only 4-year school in Texas that has Audio Engineering is Texas State San Marcos. However, all of these schools (UNT, Texas State, etc.) are modeled on a conservatory-style music program that means that you have to gain admission to the program by passing an audition playing classical music on a traditional instrument. There are other programs out there that are moving away from this model but it is still firmly in place in Texas. Other music industry programs that are enclosed within traditional music programs include the new degree at Stephen F. Austin and University of Texas in San Antonio

Q: Does Collin offer beginning classes in bass, drums, violin, etc.
A: The short answer is "no" but the long answer is that the best bet is to take beginning guitar so that you are familiar the strings, music notation and guitar technique.  After you've progressed with a traditional guitar, it's easier to begin on bass. Our program is designed around music majors who are intending to transfer to a four-year institution to complete and undergraduate in Music.  Because of this, we focus on three areas that typical freshmen/sophomore music majors would need to have:

1.  Applied lessons (in your case guitar or piano)
2.  Ensemble (in your case, guitar or keyboard ensemble)
3.  Music Theory courses (these include concurrent Music Theory I~IV, Aural Skills I ~ IV and Beginning Piano I~IV)

Q: Hi, I read the course description for the Audio Engineering I class as part of the Commercial Music program. It says that there is a lab required, but I wasn't really sure what the lab class is called and when it is offered, based on the course lookup listings? I was also wondering about the difficulty level of the class... My friend is thinking about taking the class but he has never taken a college course to know what to expect. He plays guitar and has had experience working with some music equipment, but not a great deal with the studio aspect. Basically, I'm wondering if the class is possible for a beginner to take?
A: Yes, the Audio Engineering I course is definitely for beginners but there are two ways of taking the class: 8-Week express or 16-week regular sessions. For those with no experience, take the 16-week version. For those with experience with music technology and audio engineering, especially protools, take the 8-week express.


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Christopher R. Morgan
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