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One ECC visit changed Beth’s career course


First-time Elgin Community College visitors often are amazed by what they experience once stepping foot on campus. For music faculty like Marc Beth, it took a single visit to the Arts Center in Building H to win him over.

“My first ECC experience was when I was a music teacher at Dundee-Crown High School,” he said. “We were recording a CD for our students and we decided to record at ECC in the Blizzard Theatre. I was quite impressed with the facility and the staff. The recording was fantastic, and the students had a great experience.”

Today, Beth is now the instructional coordinator for the college's music and music production programs. We caught up with Beth and asked him some questions about himself and his work at ECC. Here are his answers.

In your words, what do you do at ECC?

I teach music production and music classes. The music production certificate program provides students with basic hands-on audio engineering knowledge. This year, I also took responsibility for the musical theatre program at ECC.

What is your greatest accomplishment since you've been here?

I developed a six-course certificate program in music production from the ground up. I performed a labor study, wrote the six classes, and proposed the classes and program to the college curriculum committee, after which they proceeded to earn state approval and implementation.

The certificate program has been very successful, with more than 60 students graduating with the certificate since its inception in 2011.

What would you do if you were ECC president for a day?

I would remind all employees that regardless of contract status or state budget, they are all valued, important, and crucial to the success of ECC students.

If there was a movie about your life, who would you want to play you?

I think Jim Carrey should play me. I try to have a light-hearted approach to instruction, but also get serious when the situation demands.

What's on your “bucket list?”

I want to develop, with the other members of my department, a music professional associate of science degree. It would have several elective pathways, depending on the interest and career goals of the student, including music production, music performance, music composition/songwriting, and/or music education.

What's one fact we should know about you?

I think about teaching a LOT! I regularly reflect on the way that I was taught, relative to the ways that students operate today. Everything is so fast today, so immediate. Traditional learning has tended to require a great deal of patience.

I challenge that perspective. I strive for high standards, while meeting the students where they are.

What's something about your job that others should know?

I am a relatively new dad, and I don't always have the time to respond as quickly and as completely as I used to. It's a struggle to maintain the balance between work and home life these days.

What would be your “theme song?”

The theme from “Seinfeld” seems appropriate.

What was your favorite class in school?

My favorite class in high school was tied between geometry and music theory. Looking at problems as having more than one acceptable solution has prepared me to think creatively whenever possible.

What was your first job out of school?

I was fortunate to land a great high school teaching job directly upon graduating college. It was a unique experience, as the job didn't exist before I was hired (similar to my job at ECC). Therefore, I was, over time, able to create a job that suited my abilities perfectly. It was diverse, as I taught band, orchestra, choir, music appreciation, and technology, while also challenging on all fronts.

What quote best describes your philosophy?

“If you're teaching today what you were teaching five years ago, either the field is dead or you are.” - Noam Chomsky

Student lives are changing rapidly, and the pace is accelerating. When I was in high school, email was just beginning to become available. It was unheard of to email a teacher, and a search engine was a cumbersome effort, with hard-to-sift-through results.

Today, students expect rapid response and have amazing search engines at their disposal (and are often much better at scouring the Internet than my generation). If we expect students to read 30 pages from a textbook and remember everything, when they feel the need to remember nothing, we are setting ourselves (and them) up for a frustrating experience.

Complete this sentence: “I enjoy working at ECC because … “

The people at ECC work hard to get things done and move forward. Since the day I was hired, the support staff and administration with whom I work with have been supportive and crucial to the success of the new music production program. I was given an immense trust and responsibility to provide a modern approach to music creation.

None of it could have happened without the support of the administrators and support staff. I also am quite appreciative of the strong unions at ECC. They have fostered an environment of support, teamwork, and professional standards.


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