Music Program Encourages Student to Release Acoustic Album


Music has given one Dalton State student the confidence to compose and publish original music on one of the largest streaming services today.

“Music inspired me to quit the office job I had and go back to school full-time,” said Taylor Smith, who is pursuing his associate in music at the college.

Smith was not lacking passion but was lacking the knowledge and technique to take his talent further. He said releasing his first album on Spotify would not have been possible had he not joined the music program at Dalton State.

“I have learned how to use music and make melodies with my instrument,” Smith said. “If I hadn’t taken music theory and aural skills it would have taken me another five to 10 years to get the skills I have now. Taking those courses expedited the whole process of creating my music.”

Dr. Ellie Jenkins, associate professor of music, said the program has provided a path for Smith to move forward in music studies.

“Taylor was always engaged and asking questions as a student,” she said. “He would ask questions about things that were a year away from what we were studying. I was so impressed to find that he had finished a project like this, which requires a huge amount of work.”

Smith said the unwavering support and care from professors is something he would have missed had he gone to another institution.

“One thing you’re not going to get at a bigger college is the kind of relationship we get with our professors,” he said. “I went through a really hard time recently, and all my professors were really nice and accommodating; you’re not going to get that anywhere else. You just know they are going to look out for you.”

Jenkins said she finds smaller classroom sizes foster a sense of community among students and helps her provide a personalized experience for every individual.

“I am there every day to hold you accountable,” Jenkins said. “No student gets lost in the back of the room. I really get to know them and gain insight into their life goals.

“My goal for the music program is to provide a steppingstone forward for students with whatever they want to do with music,” she said. “I hope to see more students join the program and develop their musical interests like Taylor has.”

Smith said each song on his album represents a story and is inspired by the percussive finger style he uses to play his guitar. This technique uses the body of the guitar as a percussion instrument, he said. Listen to his new album here.

The music program is designed to help students develop skills in music reading, sight singing and dictation, creating and analyzing music works and requires students to perform in an ensemble. Course offerings also include applied private lessons to instruments including flute, guitar, French horn, low brass, piano, woodwind and voice. Choir is also available, and students can receive course credit for performing in the Dalton/Whitfield Community Band. The courses are not exclusive to music majors and can be taken by any student. For more information on music courses at Dalton State, contact Jenkins at ejenkins@daltonstate.edu.