Current Students

Linked to this page are just several of the more than fifty music majors currently pursuing a degree in music at Grossmont College. Read a little about each student, their experiences in the music department, and their musical goals...


Joshua Sanchez, music major in vocal performance

I am a 26 year old voice major currently studying at Grossmont College. In retrospect, attempting to make sense of how my life has led me thus far would be as impossible as it is irrelevant. However, it has been requested that I divulge at least a bit of information about myself. At the age of two, it was discovered that since birth, my hips had been dislocated. Being undetected for this prolonged period, it served as a catalyst for symptoms of what I now know to be Spastic Cerebral Palsy. During my childhood, I became regarded as a perpetual dreamer transforming my surroundings into whatever I deemed fit at the time. However, the constant sight of domestic violence and substance abuse left me with an insatiable longing to escape. Instead of watching Sesame Street I watched MTV, instead of building forts out of Legos, I built stages. After seeing footage of KISS Live in Japan, I embarked on a long journey down a rabbit hole with seemingly no end--if anyone finds it please let me know!


In Richard Wagner's opera Die Walkure, the hero Siegmund while relating his story quotes the lines: "Whatever I saw to be right, others saw to be wrong. Whatever I saw to be wrong, others saw to be right." As years progressed I decided at the age of twenty that I wanted to be an opera singer. It is safe to say that without singing I would have never become who I am today. This decision however, led to many heated arguments with family members. Many times I was told that I would never make it. It was not until I stepped into the Music building at Grossmont that I found the place that I needed to be all long. My being surrounded by teachers who thrive on being inspirational and their students made all those years of being a "black sheep" worth it. There is not a day that goes by now that I wake up uninspired. I have learned that being disillusioned is not something people should feel encumbered by, but rather they should learn to enjoy it to the fullest!


Day by day I feel as though my dreams are slowly becoming a reality. This sensation is further intensified by acknowledging that such wonderful people are accompanying me on this journey. Whenever I reach the point of singing in the world's great opera houses (notice the words "can't" or "maybe" are not mentioned) I will have my teachers to thank. I want them to know that a piece of them will always be with me wherever I go--never even begin to conceptualize the meaning of doubt. Fate after all would be much less interesting if it came without a sense of humor. Just spend a little time with us and you'll see what I mean.


Devin Volta, music major in guitar performance

Hello my name is Devin Volta. I have been attending Grossmont College for 2 years, and in those 2 years I have played with the Guitar Ensemble and preformed with the Grossmont Guitar Guild (all proceeds in support of the Guitar Guild Foundation). Just this last year I was placed on the presidents list for maintaining a 4.0 GPA, in addition to qualifying for 3 scholarships. I used those funds to take private lessons with who I think is the best classical guitarist in San Diego: Fred Benedetti--a great mentor and professor at this awesome college!

I chose Grossmont College's music department, because I heard that they have the best music faculty in San Diego. Which is nothing but true! All the professors are top notch at what they do, and best of all, they love doing what they do! Trust me, you can tell! My main focus is to study classical guitar and major in music education. This semester has been one of my toughest yet thus far, but I will continue to persevere!

I am still undecided on where I would like to continue my study's. For now I will be finishing up the rest of my music courses and general education here at Grossmont College! My future goals are to open a non-profit organization for the music and arts, instruct/teach private lessons, be a studio musician, compose and arrange my own music, also perform around San Diego--then the world!



Former Students

Elena Rodriguez, music major in jazz performance

Since I can remember, music has been a huge part of my life. My grandfather David, a trumpeter and my inspiration, introduced me to the great music of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, and Duke Ellington. As I started school at Hilltop Junior High I joined the band as a clarinetist and took private piano lessons but once I started high school at Hilltop Senior High, I immediately fell in love with the Alto saxophone and decided to take it all the way. In my third year of high school I became the Drum Major of the Hilltop Marching Lancers. I led my band to high placements in many parades/field competitions. Later in the year as we were getting into the concert season, I met the infamous Derek Cannon as he directed our Sweetwater District Honor Jazz Band. Playing under his directing really made me consider about attending Grossmont College and after playing under him again in my senior year of high school, I knew Grossmont College would help me gain many skills and knowledge to become the musician I know I can be.


I really enjoyed the years I spent at Grossmont. The teachers were always passionate and enthusiastic about helping students learn and become successful musicians. I had many wonderful opportunities at Grossmont including: studying guitar with Fred Benedetti, one of San Diego's finest guitarists, participating in Master Classes with guitarists Robert Belinic and Jason Vieux and performing at La Jolla's Neuroscience Institute through the La Jolla Music Society, participating in the guitar ensemble, performance studies classes and the Advanced Student Recital, as well as preparing me to teach and perform for professional paying gigs. All the things I have accomplished would not have been possible without the wonderful professors and opportunities available at Grossmont.


I am currently attending the University of California, Santa Cruz and studying classical guitar with Mesut Ozgen. In the past year at UCSC I have participated in the Concert Choir, Guitar Orchestra, West Javanese Gamelan, Early Music Consort ensembles, as well as student senior recitals. Playing in these ensembles has led to many wonderful opportunities like performing with solo guitarists Peter Constant and Marion Schaap (Z.O.O Duo) from the Netherlands in the Guitar Orchestra, working with the famous Indonesian composer Nano Suratno in the West Java Gamelan, and playing continuo in the Early Music Consort and performing Handel's oratorio Jeptha in San Francisco with UCSC Orchestra and Chamber Singers. I had the opportunity to attend a Flamenco workshop with visiting Flamenco guitarist Juan del Gastor from Spain and a guest lecture by the legendary pianist Frank Glazer and participated in Master classes with Ben Vederey, Peter Constant, Marion Schapp, and Elisabeth Le Guin. UCSC has provided a challenging but rewarding music program with many great opportunities. I plan to graduate from UCSC with a Bachelors of Music degree in 2009 and then hope to pursue a Masters of Music degree from SDSU.


Rebecca Curtis, music major in jazz vocal performance

I've been singing my entire life and growing up in a musical family, I was always exposed to different styles of music. My mom, who has been a constant source of support and knowledge, was a professional jazz singer in Puerto Rico when I was a child, and although I never had formal training, she was the one who helped to develop my musical ear through fun harmony exercises and challenges.


I always had a love and appreciation for music but also divided my extra time with sports and I always knew I would be involved with one or the other in some capacity. I earned a full-ride scholarship to play college basketball at UC Berkeley, but it wasn't until I completed my undergraduate degree there and returned home that I was presented with an opportunity through a long-time friend to work as a professional singer. Since it was the first band I ever worked with, the leader of the band, Kamau Kenyatta, really took me under his wing and helped to mold me and he taught me so much. After five years, he has been and continues to be a good friend and mentor to me.


As I started building my repertoire and becoming more comfortable on stage, I began getting work with other bands; however, as I continued to work with many of San Diego's great musicians, I felt that I was lacking something. I didn't like fitting the stereotype of being just a vocalist who didn't really know anything about the elements of music. I wanted to become a musician, and after working with Derek Cannon on a couple gigs, I knew that I wanted to go back to school and I knew that Grossmont was where I needed to be.


I'm studying Jazz, as well as Audio Production and I am learning so much! It can be tiresome, but it's worth it because I'm gaining knowledge that will separate me from other singers. I'm not sure what my plans are after Grossmont because things may be different a year from now, but I plan on recording an album this year and just continuing to learn from the people in my life, like Kamau and Derek, as well as the professors at Grossmont College. It has been a great experience being a student at Grossmont and I can see why some students hang around for four or five years! I feel so fortunate and blessed that I now work as a full-time professional musician, but I will never stop learning and trying to better myself musically.


Timothy Poulin, former music major, composer

Tim writes: "Upon entering Grossmont College, I decided to take a music theory course to see if it could help me understand a little more about the piano music that I was playing and trying to notate. It was the best decision of my life. Dr. Tweed's music theory classes had rigorous standards drawn from excellent books; I was soon able to get answers to questions that had previously blocked my creativity, such as how to move to different keys and back in songs and how to add more interest to pieces I had already written by using different types of chords. The Grossmont College Music department offered me a musical environment that was open to different musical tastes. This point cannot be emphasized enough since this acceptance at Grossmont remains in stark contrast to many other music institutions whose values are intolerant of musical genres that reside outside a narrowly defined academic ideal of music. As a student at Grossmont, I was able to freely explore music that I love without pressure from professors to only appreciate their aesthetics. Teachers like Derek Cannon, who teaches jazz & afro-cuban studies, Fred Benedetti, who teachers guitar and creates arrangements of Beatles songs for his guitar ensemble, and Dr. Randall Tweed, who coordinates the production of multi-ensemble concerts, showcase the diversity of not only the music department, but the professional talents and resources of the city at large. Grossmont College was a great preparation for many aspects of my later music education because it introduced me to working with computer music technology. Entering Grossmont, I had almost no experience with computers and was reticent to use them. At this time in 1997-1998, I saw computers as a necessary evil for word processing. However, Dr. Tweed emphasized technology use in music and required us to use music notation software and ear training software, which both prepared me for university expectations of computer competency and helped me to write music more rapidly and legibly.


My excellent teachers at Grossmont College prepared me well for transfer to the College of Creative Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I studied traditional composition under D. Jeremy Haladyna and electronic music under Dr. Curtis Roads. At UCSB I won second prize in the Corwin Music Competition for electronic music. I also collaborated with several students to create joint music recitals, wrote music for the Reel Loud Film festival, and had one of my pieces called God Loops, which parodies the importance of music composers, performed at my class's graduation.

I was accepted into graduate studies in Electro-Acoustic Music Composition at San Diego State University in Spring 2007 where I have become very involved in electronic music concerts. It was involvement in performances led by Dr. Joseph Waters that helped me realize how important it is to collaborate, organize, and be involved in wide-reaching eclectic concerts; these skills have helped with my marketability as a collaborator on interesting projects. This knowledge prepared me to become a board member for the international concert series called NWEAMO (North West Electronic Arts & Music Organization) and also helped me to manage the annual Electronic Music Marathon each semester at SDSU.


Beyond all the other value added to my life at Grossmont, the most important knowledge I acquired from Grossmont College was an appreciation for the importance of good teaching. Teachers and students at Grossmont College care about you. That cannot be over emphasized because it gives hope and direction to students like myself that may otherwise have had smaller dreams or more vague conceptions of what they could do academically. Inspiration from this great teaching environment has made me realize that I want music teaching to have a central role in my professional life.


Currently, I teach private piano and music theory lessons, I'm a teacher's assistant for the electronic music classes at SDSU, and I teach a few music technology classes there as well. My current music composition work involves both "traditional" orchestrated work and electronic interactive and generative music. I have just completed writing the score for a documentary on sharks and will be presenting interactive electronic works this year in San Diego, New York, and Miami. In the summer of 2008, I received the Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholarship, and after earning my Masters of Music from SDSU (Spring 2009) and teaching music locally for a few years, I plan to pursue a doctorate in Music composition."




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