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First Person Project: Derrick Hegeman '20

Derrick Hegeman '20
Derrick Hegeman ‘20, BA Music Composition

Our Unique Opportunities Prep Students for Graduate School

Derrick Hegeman ‘20, BA Music Composition
Derrick Hegeman Studios, Rochester, NY

As a music composition student, Derrick Hegeman grabbed every opportunity that could help him hone his craft and build his career. And studying at Keene State College meant a lot of those opportunities came his way.

The biggest one? He could hear his work performed live and see how it resonated with the public. Christopher Swist, former KSC music professor and resident artist, said, “The orchestra played his pieces. The concert band played his pieces. The faculty played his pieces. The students played his pieces. Community members played his pieces. He put on a recital.”

Those are opportunities Derrick likely wouldn’t have had at other schools. “For an undergraduate student to hear large ensembles playing your compositions in the main stage concerts, that’s unique to Keene State. You’d have to be a graduate student or even a doctoral student at other programs,” Swist said.

Our music students learn how to build their careers from the people who have done it

At Keene State College, Derrick learned firsthand from music faculty members who aren’t just teachers—they are successful professional musicians. “You have one-on-one interaction, and the entire music faculty pushed you to do better,” Derrick said. “I fell in love with what I was doing.”

And along with playing and composing music, he learned life skills he’s using as he launches his career. “Students also have to do their integrative studies, find time for their homework, play in various ensembles, and maybe have an outside job,” Swist said. “Anyone with a diploma from us has focused on how to manage their time, how to achieve, and how to balance everything while being creative on top of it.”

Keene State prepares students for graduate study at top universities

With his diploma from Keene State College in hand, Derrick was accepted at the highly selective Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. “I wouldn’t have gotten into a school like Eastman without what I got out of Keene State,” he said. At Eastman, he earned his master’s degree in music in contemporary media and film composition.

Mark Watters, associate professor at Eastman, said, “I could immediately tell when Derrick came in for his interview that he had been thoroughly trained. It was obvious that Derrick had a lot of support at Keene, and he clearly got the most out of this small school.”

Watters said Derrick was the first Keene State College student admitted at Eastman. “But I would sure keep a watch out for them now,” he said.

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