When Craig Ferrin was growing up, his father was his high school band director.
Like father like son, Ferrin followed in those footsteps to lead high school bands of his own, but then took it a few steps further to the halls of Salt Lake Community College.
Ferrin, a trumpet player who became passionate about music from a young age, used that love for music to inspire the next generation of students with a love for music at SLCC, where he’s been teaching for the last 19 years.
“If anything is worth doing, you do it again,” Ferrin said.
It’s a fitting line after a total of 31 years teaching high school and college musicians, not including his time conducting the Taylorsville Symphony Orchestra as well as participation in other Utah-based musical groups.
At SLCC, Ferrin teaches several courses, including Popular Music Bands, Introduction to the Music Industry, Money & Creative Professionals, and general education courses such as Music Appreciation, Music & Culture and World Music. He also prides himself in being one of the first instructors at SLCC to create online courses.
“The most important thing here at [SLCC] is the students,” Ferrin explained.
Every year, SLCC chooses a Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. As part of this honor, a full-time faculty member receives recognition for their quality work as well as a full school year to prepare a presentation in the form of a lecture, demonstration or performance to be presented at the end of the year. Ferrin was recognized as the Distinguished Faculty Lecturer for 2021 and gave his presentation in April.
“(I) thank the community college, the administrators, and my fellow faculty members for their support,” Ferrin said.
His presentation, Agile Practices in Education, focused on the idea that creativity can in fact be structured. Ferrin explained that oftentimes, musicians and other creative types don’t always have a set method, and he teaches his students that you can at least provide a “method to the madness.”
Ferrin explained that creative individuals need to find out what works for them to successfully execute their creativity. Once they have found what works best through trial and error, they should continue to implement the same practices over again. In other words, it is a way to streamline one’s own creative thought processes, Ferrin said.
For Isaak Lorton, Ferrin’s approach helped him develop better practices as a musician.
In addition to singing, Lorton, a music recording technology major and president of the Resonance Club at SLCC, plays a myriad of different instruments, including the drums, bass, guitar, piano and ukulele. He has taken a course taught by Ferrin almost every semester he has been at SLCC.
“He knew you were more than just a number on a paper, you were more than just a checklist item,” Lorton said.
When Ferrin graded Lorton’s assignments, Lorton would sometimes receive minute-long videos from Ferrin, explaining what he liked as well as how Lorton could improve.
“He got to know me, and he cared about my success,” Lorton said. “Craig is just, overall, a really good guy, and … he cares about his students. He’s not just another professor. He really was … my most caring professor.”
After 31 years of teaching, it is evident Ferrin makes his students the priority.
“We’re grateful for the opportunity to see their lights come on and see the growth that takes place from semester to semester, and from the beginning of the class to the end,” he said. “It’s really the emotional fuel that fuels the faculty, is those relationships and seeing the growth of students.”