Face-to-face KCC music courses next semester

  • Photo by Gary Ellwood

    This photo was taken before the pandemic. From left to right: Music directors Monica Chung, Dallas McCurley, and Professor Greg Shepherd.

PUHI — The arts and music program at Kaua‘i Community College (KCC) in Puhi is gearing up their face-to-face courses for the 2021 spring semester with the hopes that the community will take interest in the program.

Professor Greg Shepherd of the Music and Theatre program has been teaching for 32 years at KCC and is hoping his program can continue for his students’ sake, despite potential cuts to all programs.

“The main administration at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa is mandating that the community colleges, including KCC, cut a very large percentage of their budgets because of the shortfall in tax revenues due to the pandemic,” Shepherd said. “All of us at KCC are anxiously hoping that the cuts won’t result in our students being unable to take the courses they want and deserve.”

Daniel Meisenzahl, spokesperson and director of the University of Hawai‘i’s Office of Communications, said Shepherd is referring to the state’s project budget shortfall due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the anticipated cuts in funding to all state entities, including the UH System, which gets about 50% of its funding from the state.

Meisenzahl said this is expected on top of the expected state worker furloughs. The Board of Regents has asked the administration to prepare plans for these anticipated cuts.

“With all of this said, no decisions have been made yet,” Meisenzahl said. “A big part of the reason is that the governor has not submitted his budget yet to the legislature, which would indicate the budget reduction amounts. Even that budget would have to be approved by the legislature.”

Shepherd said KCC has a thriving art and music program that includes instruction in singing, piano, acting, music theory, music history, band, orchestra, and jazz ensemble.

“We also have a Creative Media Program that gives students a solid grounding in all aspects of music and video production taught by top-notch instructors,” Shepherd said.

In the 2021 spring semester, Shepherd will be teaching two sections of elementary class piano. One will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11:20 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. and another option is Monday evenings from 5 to 7:50 p.m.

“I will also be teaching a songwriting course, a singing course, and a course on the history of rock music,” Shepherd said. Shepherd said all music courses will be offered face to face next semester with an option to go to online learning if the pandemic increases in severity on the island.

“The KCC Music and Theatre Department has a long history of serving the artistic needs of our students and community members, and we look forward to continuing this mission in the years ahead with our rich and varied offerings of courses and areas of instruction,” Shepherd said.

A freshman student at KCC, Taj Gutierrez is inspired by her current classes.

“I probably wouldn’t be going to school at KCC if it weren’t for these face-to-face music courses,” Gutierrez said.

Despite the uncertainty, Shepherd and his students are planning to perform the musical “Siddhartha: Seeker of Truth” at KCC in an upcoming semester.

For more info call Greg Shepherd at 808-482-1455.

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Stephanie Shinno, features, education, business, and community reporter can be reached at 245-0424 or sshinno@thegardenisland.com.

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