Dale James wasn’t a traditional high school student, choosing to be homeschooled to tailor his learning to focus on his passion for music. James earned his general education credits online through Arizona State University’s Digital Prep program while simultaneously enrolling at Paradise Valley Community College for music.
Last spring, James graduated from high school with a 4.0 and earned PVCC’s President’s Honors Scholarship. He is now studying music full time at PVCC while also participating in the college’s Union Jazz Institute, a jazz ensemble directed by Dr. Keith Kelly.
“Both Dr. (Chris) Scinto and Dr. Kelly have been very instrumental and a great support to me,” Dale said. “I am very excited and proud to be a part of the PVCC community and continue on in earning an Associates in Arts through the Music Industry Studies program.”
"Dale exhibits all of the characteristics of a great artist - he's curious, takes his craft seriously, and has been willing to take chances in all kinds of musical settings,” said Kelly. “What is really incredible about Dale is that while being an absolutely monster musician - phenomenal soloist, great ears, wonderful time feel - he is an even better bandmate. All of the ensembles I've seen and heard him play with, whether jazz combo at PVCC or local musical acts, he clearly makes everyone else on-stage sound better!"
PVCC’s Music Industry Studies degree is a newer program on campus where music and fine arts collide. With six areas of study - content creation, recording, audio mixing, performance, production, and music management - the two-year associates program is designed for students who want to pursue a degree in the fields of audio production and music business. It not only teaches students employable music skills, but also provides hands-on experience with access to cutting-edge equipment, and the opportunity to work on Fine Arts sponsored shows.
“MIS is a musical playground where students can fine-tune their skills while harmonizing with the PVCC music,” said Scinto, head of the program.
James began playing guitar at nine years old and quickly became involved in the School of Rock, a lessons and performance based program where he began experimenting with multiple instruments including keyboard, drums, bass, and various types of music. Through another local program, Alice Cooper’s Solid Rock Teen Center and its annual competition Proof is in the Pudding, at which he has performed several times, James made dozens of connections including Scinto.
“The positive and welcoming experience from the PVCC Fine Arts community during these events, helped solidify my interest in music studies at PVCC allowing me to experience different opportunities for my music and educational goals.”
James’ stage name - ZippyRiffs - is the combination of a childhood nickname because he liked to play with the zippers on his jackets and the music term ‘riffs’, which are a rhythmic section or solo instrument playing. Currently, ‘Zippy’ plays regularly with the local band Frosty and the Silver Tones performing covers across music genres of rockabilly, pop, rock, country and blues. He is also focused on writing and performing his own music.
“I don’t want to focus on any one area of music right now,” he said. “I want to explore the whole industry and continue to be creative with my music. Down the road, I’m not sure what I want to do with my degree. It could be anything from playing guitar in a live band to making music in production.”
James' upcoming local shows as well as his original music can be found at bio.link/zippyriffs. For more information on the MIS program, click here or contact Dr. Chris Scinto at email@example.com.