APU School of Music, 1999 vs 2009

Today was a mid-year faculty retreat for the APU School of Music. A major part of the retreat was developing concrete goals for the next 5 years, how we wanted to see our program grow and change as we move forward. To prepare us for that, we looked at a similar list of goals that was set by the faculty in Spring of 2000, and how those goals had been met. The goals for 2000 were based on data from the 1999 school year, which gave us a great perspective on how the School of Music has changed in these last 10 years.

Here are some of the highlights:

  1. In 1999, we had 142 undergraduates, and 7 graduate students. In 2009, we have 250 undergraduates, 70 graduates, and 15 artist certificate students.
  2. In 1999, we had 43 total faculty, 16 full-time, 19 adjunct, and 8 private professionals (those are professional musicians who run on-campus teaching studios). In 2009, we have 96 total faculty, 27 full-time, 39 adjunct, and 20 private professionals.
  3. In 1999, four full-time faculty had terminal degrees (PhD or similar). In 2009, 14 full-time faculty have terminal degrees, and 5 are in process.
  4. In 1999, the MIDI lab was crammed into an unused storeroom under the back staircase. In 2009, we have a 12-seat teaching lab, with fully integrated media (projection, speakers, screen sharing, Logic, Sibelius, Finale, Pro Tools, etc.)
  5. In 1999, we had 4 choirs: UCO, Bel Canto, Male Choral, and Oratorio. In 2009, we’ve added to that a Gospel Choir, Chamber Singers, and Vocal Jazz ensembles.
  6. In 1999, we did not have a Symphony Orchestra (we had a chamber orchestra that hired outside professionals to cover vacant instruments). In 2009, we have a thriving Symphony Orchestra that recently gave the North American debut of a symphony by Esa-Pekka Salonen. Yup, we did it before the LA Phil did it.
  7. In 1999, we had one jazz band that was not fully instrumented. In 2009, we have 2 jazz bands with full instrumentation, and multiple jazz lab ensembles teaching improvisation.
  8. In 1999, we had no ongoing service activity for our local community. In 2009, the Azusa Conservatory offers free and subsidized lessons to 60 local children, taught by APU students. I think this is one of the most outstanding things we do. A few years ago, I heard a 9-year-old boy whose single-mother speaks only Spanish, who goes to an elementary school that is failing on every level, and he played excerpts from a Bach violin concerto. This boy’s life had been fundamentally altered by the conservatory program. It brought tears to my eyes.
  9. In 1999, we only offered a Bachelor of Arts degree. In 2009, we offer a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance, and in the next year we’ll be adding them in Church Music and Commercial Music (the BA is a liberal arts degree, the BMus is a professional degree with a higher concentration of courses in music, and more credibility in the professional world).
  10. In 1999, we offered nothing for commercial music. In 2009, we have 75 students studying in the Commercial Music degree program, making it the fastest growing degree in our school.
  11. In 1999, we were not sending ensembles internationally to perform and record. The last time a large ensemble had toured outside of North America was 1992. In 2009, we’ve sent every ensemble on an international tour in the past 7 years, including tours to Armenia, Romania, Germany, Thailand, Australia, Korea, and Italy.
  12. In 1999, we offered no senior thesis course. In 2009, we have a dedicated Senior Seminar in Music Ethics.
  13. In 1999, we offered no artist certificate program. In 2009, we have 15 students in that program, where they study technique and literature in their instrument intensively and exclusively for a year. Students studying piano and strings in this program place and win at international competitions regularly.
  14. In 1999, we offered no graduate scholarships. In 2009, we award almost a quarter of a million dollars a year in graduate scholarships.
  15. In 1999, we didn’t offered a graduate degree in composition. In 2009, we have our first class of students working toward a Master of Music in Composition.
  16. In 1999, our program was accredited only as part of our university, not independently. In 2009, we have full accreditation through the National Association of Schools of Music. In a very rare move for the NASM, they bypassed the normal provisional membership stage, and inducted us as full members at our first application.
  17. In 1999, we offered no international study for music students. In 2009, we just welcomed back our first group of students from Heidelberg, Germany, where they studied for a semester. We are one of the only Schools of Music in North America to offer this kind of opportunity, where students go internationally for a semester in a program designed specifically for music, study with local instructors, perform in local ensembles, and learn about the history and culture of the place from resident scholars. We heard the report back from those students this morning, and they uniformly agreed that it was a life-changing experience.

I hope that I never take for granted the blessing I’ve been given, to teach at a place like this. It’s wonderful to look at this list, and to think, “I was part of this, I got to help build this into what it has become.” I can look at this list and see specific things that I had a hand in. It’s humbling to think that I have a part in this, and more than a little overwhelming to realize the awesome responsibility that comes from shaping the future of the program.

God is at work in our little corner of the world. Today was a great reminder of that.

26 thoughts on “APU School of Music, 1999 vs 2009

  1. Chad

    1999 = Chad
    2009 = no Chad

    There’s just no coming back from a coherent argument like the one I just made, suckas. APUs greatest days are behind her, friends. Sorry.

  2. michael lee Post author

    The Chad we have now took 1st place at the GMAs.Or did you mean our other Chad, the one who engineers at Martin Sound?

    Either way, we gotcha covered, asshat.

  3. Chad


    I was being self deprecating and silly. You’re just being nasty.

    The GMAs? Excuse me while I set my Heart’s Desire Time Machine back to 1994. I’m sure I’ll be able to find my place in this world.

  4. Cheri Cole

    Nice. I hope the trend continues!
    I too am thankful for my opportunity to have been around for the past couple of years, and look forward to continued growth…

  5. Jon Mann

    1999 featured myself on bass in the defunct Jubilant Song playing alongside a drummer who was told repeatedly by our director “Don’t groove”

  6. Sharolyn


    I was wondering how the demise of Jubilant Song came about.

    And, it’s kind of hard to wrap my brain around all the brilliant stuff that is going on.

  7. Scott

    It is refreshing to see a positive post anywhere about our School of Music. Granted, it is by someone IN the department, and numbers are certainly not everything, but I second the fact that these are great changes. There are always losses as personnel and priorities change, but there are great gains as well. I transferred to APU in 2001, and I am planning to finish my Master’s this May. I have witnessed most of these things, and they are greatly worth celebrating.

    So what are the goals for the next 5 years?

  8. michael lee Post author

    1. Faculty hottub.
    2. Eliminate the degree in vocal performance.
    3. Make the whole school a two-year technical college instead of a university.

    All in all, good changes I think.

  9. Laura Britvec

    Here Chad, I’ll go for the *unmistakably* self-deprecating angle:

    1999: No Laura
    2009: Still no Laura

    We got it–Brian and I laughed. That said, I think we laughed harder that Mike called you an asshat. Hee hee hee…I mean, ahem.

  10. Matty

    Sharolyn means “The Asshattery”, I believe.

    The Asshatery is already an established “heterosexual-only” club in West Hollywood.

  11. sharolyn

    Thanks, Matt. Very informational. :)
    Also, I don’t think the latter would go over very well with the Dean.

  12. sharolyn

    #7 – When I was in college, some of the decent jazz players went next door to Citrus College.

  13. Bill Heatley

    Very impressive list. I read it via email and was wondering what effusive and gorifying comments about what God has been doing at APU over the last 10 years would be filling the pages of Addison Road…saw Chad’s initial comment and fell off my chair laughing. You people have got to stop making me laugh that hard.

  14. David Michael Loucks

    Holy crap! I can’t stop laughing about “Asshatery”… that might be the funniest comment I’ve read in 10 years! Kudos Matt.
    This is a GREAT list, Mike… from my perspective as an alum who’s relatively out of touch with what’s been going on since I graduated in… ahem… 96, this is EXTREMELY encouraging and marks what I would call a HUGE step forward in a short amount of time. Thanks for sharing this good news.
    And Chad… as a word of encouragement, ummm I actually won that GMA top award too, so if MY subsequent success is any indication… it’s a relatively useless honor. So I don’t think you’re an asshat. :-)

  15. michael lee Post author

    OK, in all seriousness, the 5-year goals are a long list, but here are some that are close to my heart.

    1. A dedicated recording studio, staffed by both a professional staff engineer and student assistants, along with a B room and a C room that are readily available for student engineers to use.

    2. Right now, we offer no online courses. Within 5 years, we want to make a significant portion of the 1st-year coursework available in an online format, so that students who are motivated can get some of the early courses completed over the summer, before their first semester. Also, students who take remedial courses (music fundamentals, etc.) can use online courses over the summer to get back on track. This would also make it possible for students to commute from longer distances, and only be on campus one or two days a week for ensembles and lessons.

    3. We want to secure a reduction in General Studies units for BMus students, so that they can complete their schooling in 4 years instead of 5.

    4. A regular seminar in how to be a professional musician. How to balance accounts, how to use debt wisely, how to manage income for taxes, how to market yourself, how to connect with people who can be influential in your career, things that don’t have to do with music, but have everything to do with being a professional.

    5. A proficiency exam for every single program within the School of Music, that must be passed prior to the Junior year of study. At the end of your sophomore year, if you can’t explain the basics of music theory, can’t pass an aural exam (ear-training), can’t correctly identify the ranges of standard instruments, you no longer get to be a composition major. That sort of thing.

  16. Wendy Hinkle

    Yeah, well David, at least you’re WORKING in the music industry. I’d say that’s a success, in and of itself. :)

    Congrats Mike, on being a part of all that growth. And thank you, Matt and Chad for getting funnier every year! My cheeks hurt from laughing.

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