Symphony of the Fine Arts

A spotlight on Saddleback College music depart featuring co-chairs Norman Weston and Joey Sellers

Saddleback College music department. Photo: Lariat

Saddleback College has a large Fine Arts division that allows the college to be the stepping stone toward higher degrees. Within the division, all the departments provide their students with the best guidance and education they can provide.

“As an instructor, I love the fact that the emphasis is on teaching and not so much on research, and that allows you to concentrate on being a really good teacher.” Said Norman Weston, the co-chair of the music department at Saddleback. Weston believes that the music department staff is on par with four-year universities, and he is not alone in the sentiment.

“We want students to get the widest breadth of experience they can, so one of the things about the collegiality about the faculty is that it serves the students since we are always talking about our students and what’s going to be best for the particular student under particular circumstances.” Said Joey Sellers, fellow co-chair of the music department.

Sellers and Weston differ significantly between each other, yet their focus along with their fellow staff is that of the students. I am giving them the best outcome rather than person recognition and fame. Both believe a weakness in many music programs is to chase their ambitions rather than guiding students.

“That’s what we get paid to do man as far as I am concerned. A lot of universities are proud of how they don’t deal with the students,” said Sellers.

Directing students is the goal of the music department. This happens through teaching the students, but also demonstrating to them.

“When you are teaching music, your students expect you to do it, right? So if I am teaching piano, I’m not the piano instructor, but if I am the piano professor and I never played, they would be like ‘Why am I studying with you?’” Said Weston.

With the many concerts that occur at Saddleback throughout each semester, there are concerts that the professor perform. Sometimes it is with the students; other times, it is with the entire faculty in the music department.

In these concerts, it allows the students to see how their instructors perform and work with other talented musicians. Actions speak louder than words, and this visual displays help the students. It makes the students want to refine their craft and reach the heights of their instructors.

Professors can boast about their students, but it comes off hallow without student input. This is why two students were interviewed to confirm Sellers and Weston’s statements.

“I want to do music as a career, and I want to get better at the drums set, and there is a great music faculty here at Saddleback.” Said Artie Fish, a recent Jazz major and drummer for the past seven years.

Fish has had a great experience learning from the Jazz program since he hasn’t been a jazz musician for very long. Yet, the program has driven him toward that music pathway.

“I am here to make connections with my colleagues at school, and the faculty is amazing.” Said David Renessa, a first-semester music student at Saddleback. Renessa is grateful for the guidance that Professor Sellers has provided to him, allowing him to make secure connections in the music program.

The students have only praise on the music department and the staff that leads it since it has allowed them to make connections and learn how to better their musical talents. The goals and efforts of the music department to teach their students has allowed them to keep students learning and prepared for the competitive world that a music career must face.