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Music Club Hits Right Note with MCCC Students


West Windsor, N.J. – Put a group of music enthusiasts in a room together and there’s bound to be sound – great sound! Mercer County Community College’s newly established Music Club, which meets Wednesdays in the Music Room, has hit just the right note with students.  Some of them are majoring in music and look for opportunities to rehearse, while others simply enjoy soaking it all in. 

The club was inspired by Student Government Association Vice President Celina Hicks, who is double majoring in Music and Education.  “We have student clubs for so many interests at Mercer.  It just seemed like a music club would be a natural.”

Hicks’ hunch was right. The group began meeting weekly in the fall.  “We get 20 or more students at every meeting,” says advisor Jim Kelly, coordinator of the Music Program.  “They love to perform and they get a chance to form new collaborations.”

The club is clearly a welcome addition for student Jen Jankowski, who spent her younger years singing in choral groups.  “I was in choir for 14 years right through high school,” she explains.  “This club fills that gap.”

Tiffany Fortier seconds that emotion.  “I have been playing musical instruments since I was young. This club helps me fulfill my passion.  It’s great for me.”

Meetings typically run about an hour during lunch.  At a meeting in early March, the business portion was conducted by officers Irvel Jean and Dherey Santiago.  As with other clubs at Mercer, the group is tasked with doing at least one fundraiser and one community service project during the semester.  The group agreed that it will host a bake sale – complete with live musical accompaniment – in mid-April in the MCCC Student Center.  They are considering a performance at a senior center to fulfill their community service requirement.

But, clearly, these sessions are all about the music.  Jude Desinor, who is pursuing a degree in Advertising and Graphic Design, says, “It’s my outlet and my hobby.  I am not a music major, but music helps get me through my day.” Adds Karif Coller, who is studying Communications, “To be able to come together and share what I care about is great.”

Adult student Wenonah Brooks says the club provides an opportunity for collaboration across the generations. Brooks, who has had a professional career as a jazz vocalist, comes from a musical family that dates back to her grandfather, a traveling performer in the late 1800s.  “It’s important for different generations to interact and that’s what we do here,” she said.  At the March meeting, she asked for volunteers to accompany her during an upcoming performance of “Talk to Me” as part of an annual jazz concert at the Off-Broadstreet Theatre in Hopewell.   “I need the Willie John version,” she emphasized to the group. “Grandma is old school.”

Santiago concurs with Brooks that music speaks to all generations. An Education major, Santiago plans to get her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and use music to reach out to children in the day care setting. Her special focus is deaf children, who, she explains, benefit from musical rhythms and vibrations.

The club members' musical interests run the gamut from classical, jazz and popular right up through electronic music.  Liberal Arts student Chris Brancone is a major fan of the electronic music genre and does some of his own mixing. He has started volunteering at WMCC, the student radio station, and is working to coordinate a live performance by club members on the station.

Meetings typically conclude with musical performances.  At the March meeting, Desinor sang two songs, one by Chris Brown and another by John Legend.  He was accompanied on piano by Irvel Jean and Dwayne Derry.

The meetings are also getting some traction on Facebook.  Another Communications major, Marisa Bechtle, is a singer who is also studying bass guitar, drums and classical piano at Mercer.  She has become the club’s go-to videographer, filming club performances and posting them to her Facebook page.  Each opportunity to film, she says, is a learning experience that is helping her polish her skills.

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Impromptu sing-alongs are part of the energy during meetings. Pictured are singer Celina Hicks and accompanist Irvel Jean; around the piano are, from left, Dherey Santiago, Elisa Duncan, Marisa Bechtle and Dwayne Derry.

Sharing across the generations is one of the joys
of participating in the Music Club, says student
Wenonah Brooks, a professional jazz vocalist.
Chris Brancone, left, discusses the possibility of having club members perform live for WMCC, the student radio station.


Jude Desinor performs before it's time to move on with the day.

The group brings together a diverse group that shares a love of music.