GC by Me: Music: The Language of Humankind …

… and the teachers who teach it

Olivia Wright




By Olivia Wright


Jazz Ensemble

Benjy Springs and the Greensboro College Jazz Ensemble

Music is a language that everyone speaks. Whether a happy tune or a somber note cried to the moon, music can be understood by everyone with a soul. But the understanding of the language must come from a source. What makes a song give you the feeling of happiness? How do major, minor and diatonic chords differ?  At Greensboro College, the source for answers like these are thanks to our professors who are teaching the fundamentals of music. At GC, we pride ourselves in having not only great music professors, but also professors who actually take music beyond the classroom.

If ever you miss the birds chirping as the sun rises, you can make your way over to Odell Memorial Building, Room 204, where you are likely to find Dr. Jane McKinney, the chair of the music department, teaching the building blocks of music through song. Her music theory class can be heard harmonizing her melody, as she sings the verses while simultaneously counting the rhythm of “Take Me Out to the Ball Game.” Dr. McKinney is also an advisor to the North Carolina Music Educators Association, where she focuses on developing strong education programs for up-and-coming music educators.

Dr. David Fox, who teaches piano and the fundamentals of music, is always willing to set aside time to have individual piano lessons if some extra help is needed. When not on campus, Dr. Fox can be found performing as a pianist in various local jazz groups. Recently, he, along with colleague Ted Efremoff completed “The Healing Blues Project,” which turned the stories of people suffering from homelessness and post-traumatic stress disorder into blues songs. The first studio album sold almost 1,000 copies. For the second installment, Fox focused on spoken word rather than blues songs.

Recording session with Roger Kohrs and David Fox for The Healing Blues

Recording session with Roger Kohrs and David Fox for “The Healing Blues.”

Another versatile member of the music department professors is Benjy Springs. Like his colleagues, he works hard to provide a quality education to growing minds, while also maintaining a well-balanced life of his own. With more than 40 years of experience, Springs—who exudes professionalism both in and out of the classroom—is sure to lead you toward a path of success and opportunity. During the past 18 years, he has done amazing work in molding what was once a department with one music major to a program that now comprises over 50 musicians. When  Springs isn’t taking the Jazz Band to New Orleans to perform or the Marching Band on exhibition, he can be found doing a little performing of his own. You can catch him in concert with the North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra—or with The Temptations and The Four Tops when they tour the East Coast.

Like his colleagues, [Benjy Springs] works hard to provide a quality education to growing minds, while also maintaining a well-balanced life of his own.

Dr. Jon Brotherton

Dr. Jon Brotherton

While musical instrumentation may get us humans going, often it’s the lyrics that keep us on our toes. That is why many musicians in the instrumental program join chorale with Dr. Jon Brotherton. “Dr. B,” is the associate chair of the music department. He is also the director of choral activities at GC and the director of music at Jamestown Presbyterian Church. In the words of a current student, “Dr. B has a great personality, and his faith can be seen through his love for music.”

Along with these great individuals, the music department offers private lessons for every student instrument and voice. Not only does GC produce great performers, it also produces well-rounded future educators who have been nurtured in such a way that they have no doubt about their next steps.

Olivia Wright ’20 is a music-education major from Youngsville, N.C. She plans to teach high-school band after graduation.

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