By Chet Green
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Michael Billingsley, a music teacher at Camden County College for 11 years, is teaching three classes, preparing for an upcoming concert with one of his classes, and working on getting his Ph.D.
This semester, Billingsley is teaching Rock Ensemble, Jazz History, and Music Appreciation. Billingsley also oversees all of the music lessons that take place on campus.
Billingsley graduated from Overbrook High School and after high school, continued his education by going to college at University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Billingsley knew he wanted to teach music since he was in sixth grade and had a very influential band director who would let him help other students learn music. After college, he got a job teaching Instrumental Music at a Catholic school in Northeast Philadelphia.
As well as teaching three classes this semester, Billingsley is preparing his Rock Ensemble class for a concert in May, when the ensemble will perform the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, from start to finish. When asked why he decided to perform this album now, Billingsley responded, “I’ve always wanted to play this album because The Beatles never did, so that’s what first gave me the idea. I just wasn’t sure how the class would do with such a complex album. So, we started by doing Abbey Road two semesters ago and the students just seemed very shocked to be on that stage. We then did Revolver last semester and the students were much more comfortable with that one, so I decided from that, that we were ready to play this album.”
Bruce Tyler, a member of Billingsley’s Rock Ensemble class, stated, “Professor Billingsley is a good teacher and I like performing The Beatles’ albums.” Since the class is ready to play it now, the band will also perform it at Spring Fling in April.
Billingsley is finishing his last class at Rutgers, New Brunswick, to get his Ph.D. in Music Education. With this new degree, Billingsley hopes to be able to make his future Music Appreciation classes even more interesting.
Outside of school, Billingsley finds time to play jazz music with his band The B Band. Billingsley writes music, plays trumpet and piano, and sings. Other then playing music with his band, Billingsley spends time with his family, which consists of a wife and two children.
Billingsley’s advice to students considering a career in music is: “Be prepared to work really really hard.”