Oct 062004
Authors: Joanna Larez

Kevin Cupit wants to perform bass and teach music one day, but

he wants to get straight to the basics without dealing with

freshman composition, speech or any other core classes.

Cupit, 30, is a standup-bass student, one of five students in

the inaugural class of the Colorado Contemporary Music College.

Classes began on Sept. 7. The college provides a new solution to

the problem of getting caught up in studies that are not the

primary interest for music students, including Cupit.

The college is open to beginners and people with a musical


Tom Noonan, one of the founders, said he has seen a need for a

local contemporary music program in Fort Collins. He has been a

musician for 38 years and has been teaching private guitar and

banjo lessons for 34 years. Noonan is currently an instructor at

CCMC, and he still teaches music classes at Front Range Community


“I’ve had students over the years who wanted to study guitar,

but the vast majority of local programs focus on classical guitar,”

Noonan said. “CCMC is great if somebody wants to play rock


The one-year program is not exclusively for rock ‘n’ rollers. It

includes three 15-week semesters. Students learn about starting a

band, making recordings, managing a musical career and protecting

their work. They can study with an emphasis in performance or


After the program’s completion, students are awarded with a

diploma in commercial music.

The nonprofit organization is a division of the Department of

Colorado Higher Education, according to its Web site,

www.coloradomusiccollege.org. Rick Busson, who worked with Noonan

to get the school started, has a bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate

in music. He has been a private guitar instructor for 25 years and

has taught at the community college and university level.

Noonan and Busson created CCMC after evaluating other

contemporary music schools. They added things they thought could

make their program better and did not include requirements such as

past music experience. Berklee College of Music in Boston is also a

nonprofit organization and its enrollment numbers are

inspirational, Noonan said.

“They have between 34(,000) and 36,000 students,” Noonan said.

“We know it will take a while to get there, but if someone else has

done it, then why can’t we?”

Noonan expects growth for the program in the near future.

“We’d certainly like to break the 100 mark by the second or

third year,” Noonan said.

A lack of core curriculum and affordable prices are a bonus for


“Musicians, in general, are pretty poor,” Cupit said. “Here you

focus on music and don’t need to be taking a bunch of


Total costs for one year are $5,400, which includes tuition,

books, materials and registration fees. The inaugural class

received a 50 percent discount from the $5,000 tuition.

Cupit is enjoying the program and has been learning a lot.

“I’m happier (here) every day,” Cupit said. “I feel like I’ve

learned more in the last three weeks than I’ve learned in the last

three years.”

The students get a weekly 30-minute one-on-one session of

playing their instrument with an instructor’s critique.

“One highlight of the program is being able to work with someone

who has been playing the same instrument as you,” said Chris Mason,

19, a bass student. “It shows you what you have to work on, and

puts everything in perspective.”

Although Mason has been playing the bass for about 11 years, he

has been refining his techniques in the program.

“I’ve been able to do a lot of things I never knew could be done

on the bass,” Mason said.

A unique aspect to the program is the requirement of keyboard


“It’s such a perfect instrument for understanding music,” Noonan


He has received positive response from students regarding the

keyboard classes.

“I think it’s the greatest idea in the world,” Cupit said.

“Everything you need to know about music is in the piano. You can

take what you’ve learned and apply it to other instruments.”

Enthusiastic about his classes, Cupit encourages others to join

in the education he is receiving.

“If you really want to know the ins and outs of music, and if

you want to know why it sounds good, you have the opportunity to

learn it (at Colorado Contemporary Music College),” Cupit said.

Total costs including tuition,

books, materials and registration: $4,500

Currently meets at Harmony

Presbyterian Church at 400 E. Boardwalk Dr.

Classes finished by noon

Some classes offered: Ear Training,

Intro to Music Technology, Music Recording and Sound Technology,

Improvisation, Business of Music and Music Interpretation and


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