Kirt Shearer expands ARC’s Commercial Music Program to another level

The program is undergoing big changes with new courses being added


Kinzang Gyeltshen, Parker Weis and Emerson Myers (from left to right), students in the advanced recording studio techniques class, work in Studio A. (Photo courtesy of the ARC Commercial Music Department)

The commercial music program at American River College is expanding with two new courses soon to be added to the program. 

Students will be able to take these classes beginning in the fall 2023 semester, according to Kirt Shearer, director of the commercial music program. 

There will also be technological upgrades to one of the studios in summer 2023. 

The first class they’re adding is involved with creating content in audio and video design. The second class is on the side of mixing and mastering, according to Shearer.

During fall 2021 with the vaccine mandate, student attendance on campus decreased and the department lost a third of its students, according to Shearer. Moving forward, they resorted to having the classes mainly online or hybrid.

“It was very difficult to figure out how to teach a skills-based class online to provide students with a relevant education,” Shearer said. “We really had to change everything we did. Normally they are here setting up bands, setting up microphones.”

With audio production, there’s a lot of hands-on learning and it was difficult for many professors to teach online, according to Scott McChane, a music business professor at ARC.

“Every student has a different way of learning, absorbing and retaining information,” McChane said in an email to the Current. “Hands-on work, such as audio engineering, is best taught in person.”

According to McChane, distance learning made it difficult to attend to students’ needs and questions. Although his office hours were available, he felt like he couldn’t personally connect with his students. 

Fast-forwarding a year after the pandemic, the ball was slowly rolling for the program. While the program started having in-person classes in fall 2021, it was not until the spring 2022 semester that most classes were fully in-person. 

Ever since then, the program has seen an increased number of students attending class on campus. 

Now that more students are back on campus, Shearer and McChane, along with several music instructors, are bringing Studio B to a new level and updating the music business classes at ARC. 

“Over the summer, we’ll be adding a new, large-format analog console, plus updated digital automation tools, to Studio B. We’re also collaborating on updating our music business curricula,” McChane said.