Date: 2017/08/16

GFC MSU partners with professional musicians for new music courses

Musicians Tyler Menzel, seated; Sam Krahn, standing left; and Dorian Antipa, standing right, will teach several of the new music courses being offered this fall at Great Falls College MSU.

By Erin Granger
Great Falls College MSU News Service

GREAT FALLS – When it came time for Dr. Dorian Antipa to pick a college, he selected the college closest to the small town of 1,100 people in northern California where he grew up.

"I went to the most local state school," Antipa said.

Antipa went on to earn his master's and then his Doctorate of Musical Arts, but starting at his local college was an important first step on his journey to become a professional musician.

That's why Antipa is excited that Great Falls College MSU will begin offering expanded music coursework this fall. Antipa will be teaching a face-to-face Enjoyment of Music class.

"I'm really excited that Great Falls College is doing this on such a local level," he said.

So many young, aspiring musicians think they need to leave Great Falls to pursue their passion, and this will give them a chance to start their music education in their hometown, Antipa added.

The new music coursework offered at GFC MSU is designed to transfer seamlessly to a four-year music program.

"This is a great way for local students to start a bachelor's degree in music," said Cynthia Stevens, department chair of Fine Arts and Humanities at GFC MSU. "It's meant to serve folks who want to pursue music performance, music education, composition or even music business."

During the two years required to complete an Associate of Arts, students can take a range of music courses, including ear training, music theory and keyboard skills.

"We have a wonderful K-12 music program in our public schools, and we wanted to offer a new option for local students who would like to continue their musical studies after high school," Stevens said.

The new music coursework will be taught by local professional musicians with the credentials to teach at the college level.

"We have an amazing number of local musicians in our community who have master's degrees and doctorates," Stevens said. "The caliber of our new music instructors is incredible."

Antipa is the principal bassoonist in the Great Falls Symphony and also performs with the Chinook Winds Quintet. He earned his bachelor's degree in music performance from Sacramento State University before going on to earn his master's in musical performance and Doctorate in Musical Arts from the Hartt School of Music, Dance and Theater at the University of Hartford. As music offerings at GFC MSU expand, Antipa will be the instructor for any additional music history classes added to the curriculum.

Dr. Sam Krahn will teach aural perception and music theory classes. Aural perception focuses on learning to look at a piece of music and know what it will sound like, as well as being able to hear music and write down the notes. Music theory teaches how a piece of music is structured.

"These classes are really important for students who want to continue studying music," Krahn said.

Krahn has a bachelor's degree in classical guitar performance from Boston University. His master's is in composition from Roosevelt University in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. in music composition from the University of Minnesota.

Originally from Milwaukee, Krahn moved to Great Falls with his wife, Maria Ritzenthaler, who is the principal violist for the Great Falls Symphony. Krahn works as a professional composer, teaches private classical guitar lessons and organizes the Montana Improvisers Orchestra.

Tyler Menzel will be teaching keyboarding skills and will be available to teach applied lessons in piano and flute. Menzel plays in the Billings Symphony Orchestra as principal flute and also plays regularly with the Great Falls Symphony Orchestra.

He holds a bachelor's in music from Eastman School of Music at the University of Rochester. His master's in music is from Juilliard.

"I went to school for flute, but I've been playing piano for as long as I've been playing the flute," Menzel said.

Nearly all music students are required to take keyboarding classes.

"The knowledge of how to look at a piano score and know what's going on is important for any musician," Menzel said. "For music educators, there's not ever going to be a time when they're not working with the piano."

As local musicians, Antipa, Krahn and Menzel are looking forward to the impact the expanded music courses at Great Falls College MSU will have on the local music scene.

"I'm really excited about the community we'll be creating," Krahn said. "We're adding to the Great Falls music experience."

Previously, students who wanted to pursue music education after high school had to leave Great Falls, Menzel said.

"If a student wanted to pursue music, they were drawn away from Great Falls," he said. "This offers a chance to keep them here."

All three musicians agree that students will still have to leave Great Falls to earn a bachelor's degree in music, but they hope students will be more likely to return if they have had a chance to build connections in Great Falls while they earn their Associate of Arts here.

"This program has the potential to be a funnel system into the greater Great Falls music community," Menzel said.

Fall classes at Great Falls College MSU begin Aug. 28. The deadline to register is Aug. 23 by noon. For more information, contact Admissions at 406-268-3700 or, or visit

For more information, contact:

Erin Granger
Marketing Specialist
Phone: 406.771.4314

Lewis Card
Executive Director—Development, Communications & Marketing
Phone: 406.771.4412

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