GVSU to sign music credit articulation with GRCC

By Jake Moerdyke | 11/14/10 7:12pm

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GVL Archive / James Brien
A past Orchestra performance


Grand Valley State University will sign an agreement with Grand Rapids Community College to allow music majors to transfer credits seamlessly between the two universities.

The agreement, referred to as an articulation, will give students who have graduated from GRCC with an associate’s degree in music the chance to easily transition into junior-level music courses at GVSU.

“This is designed to allow for a seamless transition,” said Kevin Dobreff, head of GRCC’s music and performing arts department. “It will make (GVSU) more attractive to our transfer students.”

Before the articulation was designed, students transferring from GRCC had to undergo a battery of tests to identify if they fit the GVSU criteria.

Danny Phipps, chair of the GVSU music department, said because both schools have accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music, a placement exam seemed unnecessary.

The articulation only applies to students who have completed an associate’s degree at GRCC. Those who want to transfer before they have earned their degree will have to take the placement exams.

Phipps said music courses run in a four-semester succession. The succession often differs between institutions, and the placement exam determined where the student placed in the sequence at GVSU.

“It not a matter that you don’t know it or you can’t do it,” Phipps said. “It’s a matter of how it’s taught.”

Phipps said he knows different teachers have different ways of teaching, and he believes this is why courses between universities do not necessarily line up with each other.

“You can’t expect instructors at GRCC to teach like they would for the music department at Grand Valley,” Phipps said.

Students coming into the GVSU music program from GRCC will still have to audition for their instruments.

“Musicians are used to taking auditions on their instrument,” Phipps said. “That’s what we do.”

Dobreff said the process of setting up the articulation started two years ago with meetings between the two heads of the institutions’ departments. He and Phipps made sure both schools had the same expectations of what the students should learn.

Once all the preliminary meetings were set, and they agreed the courses were comparable, Phipps handed the rest of the process over to Kevin Tutt, the assistant chair of the music department. Tutt made sure the articulation went through the proper channels. After the initial meetings, the process of writing the articulation and establishing the rules took two months to complete.

The signing of the agreement will take place at 11:30 a.m. Monday in the Heritage Restaurant, located in the GRCC Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center at 151 Fountain St. NE.

“This is in recognition of the terrific programs at GRCC … in recognition of the dedication of their faculty, to craft a program that meets national accreditation standards,” Phipps said. “I think that it’s a very positive benefit for both universities.”

He added this signature marks the first transfer agreement of this nature between the two universities.

Dobreff said he hopes this articulation will act as a springboard toward other cooperative efforts between the two universities and with other schools in West Michigan.

“We are all in the business of educating students,” Phipps said. “We are all in the business of trying to create programs that prepare talented, bright young folks for careers in music. Anything that we can do to not hinder that is critical.”

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