Paradise Valley

The Business of Music & Beyond: Q&A with Dr. Brett Reed, PVCC Commercial Music Program Director

Dr. Brett Reed

Dr. Brett Reed is the Director of the Commercial Music Program and the Percussion Program at PVCC.  In addition, he is a performer and composer specializing in contemporary and improvised music. He regularly performs as a solo percussionist, as a member of several ensembles, including Crossing 32nd Street, the Tjader Project, Union32 and as a jazz vibraphonist in solo and ensemble settings.

How did you become interested in music?
When I was young we had family jam sessions at my grandmother’s house.  Everyone in the family played an instrument; however, I didn’t know what I wanted to play.  My grandfather gave me a drum set that was up in the attic.  My grandmother taught me how to hold the sticks and how to listen and learn the parts.

Who have been your main influencers in the music world?
Three of my college professors Dr. Terry Gunderson from Casper College,  Christopher Shultis from University of New Mexico and Steven Schick from UC San Diego.  All three taught me something different.  I learned how to approach music at a high level.  Gary Burton, renowned vibraphonist, solidified my interest in jazz.
How did you arrive at PVCC?
We moved to Arizona on a whim after I completed my doctorate degree in California.  A colleague of mine worked at Glendale Community College. I became an adjunct professor at GCC and then here at PVCC.  I became a full time professor at PVCC in 2005.

What is unique about the Commercial Music Program that students can’t find elsewhere?
Audio production is the backbone of our program and one of the reasons students come to PVCC.  In addition, our program is a hands-on experience.  We are housed in the Center for Performing Arts (CPA).  Other performing arts disciplines use the facility and audio production is always needed.  Students gain experience from the get-go working on the first CPA production of the year.
What advice do you like to give to students?
I tell students they should be skilled and proficient in at least one instrument, so that they can communicate with performers.  In addition, I recommend students embed themselves in the music community.  There is nothing that is not collaborative or attached to other people.

How do you help students that might be struggling in your classes?
We have open lab time and I am very available.  I spend time helping students connect what we are working on to music they already know and love. A skill can be applied to anything.  We can listen to a track together and I can teach them how to hear the sounds.

What is the most rewarding aspect of teaching at PVCC?
I love seeing students work through the three levels of the studio recording cycle. At the end they have engineered and produced a complete recording.
Do you offer experiences for students not yet in college?
We encourage high school students to enroll in classes offered in the afternoon.  During the summer, we offer a music technology camp for middle schoolers and “no experience necessary” workshops for all ages in mixing techniques, electronic music and film scoring.

About the Commercial Music Program
The Commercial Music Program offers degrees in Audio Production Technology and Music Business with certificate programs available in both areas.  Within the core requirements, students will take courses in studio recording, digital audio, live sound and the business of music.  More information

Listen to Dr. Reed’s music on Spotify