Faculty Feature: Dr. Stephen Grieco

By Leo Melancon
September 26, 2019

Dr. Grieco


Dr. Stephen Grieco, assistant professor of music, will release an album of original music this fall.  His collection, “Reflections,” will be available on iTunes and Amazon. Although Grieco earned a Master’s degree from Bowling Green State University and a doctorate from Arizona State, his composing career started at a young age, when his parents made him take piano lessons.

“I hated every minute of it,” said Grieco. “What I didn’t care for was practicing the lessons the way they were, so I would find myself making up things as I went along.”

Grieco’s original works have won national music competitions.  In addition to composing his own pieces, which he describes as being in a “contemporary classical style,”  Grieco enjoys working with his students to help them create their own music, whether it is rock, hip-hop, country or Jazz.

Dr. Stephen Grieco, the assistant professor in the music department. Photo by Leo Melancon.

“I absolutely love to know that [my students] get a chance to create something that they didn’t think they could do,” Grieco said.  “I like to shepherd them through that process and be part of it. . .that, to me, is really the greatest reward when we get to the end of the term.”

As faculty adviser to the XMusica Society, Grieco encourages students not only to create but to perform their music.  Kayla Hunt, junior writing major and music/philosophy minor, performed an original song at the society’s spring music showcase.  Hunt decided to minor in music after she learned of Grieco’s improvements to the curriculum.

“I saw the direction he was trying to take the music minor and I became a lot more interested because it was more innovative and flexible,” Hunt said. “[Grieco] has been adamant about making a music program that prepares you to be a musician and survive as a musician.”

Many of the classes Grieco teaches focus on making music relevant to today’s students.

“Music Theory and Composition” gives the tools needed to write music. “Music Technology and Media Scoring” lets students use software to create music, even if they can’t play an instrument. “Hip-Hop Song Writing” and “Music and Performing Arts Management” are new this year. 

“Survey of Music” is a popular course for students from all majors, because it meets a core curriculum requirement. Grieco especially enjoys teaching the Survey course because he can get students to understand and appreciate music in a new way.

“I get a chance to make music relevant, not just talking about  music of the past, but how does it connect to what you’re listening to today?” Grieco said. “People walk around every day with the earbuds in, they’re constantly listening to music, and if you can understand better what’s happening with it, I think you get to enjoy it even more.”

Sophomore Raymond Johnson, an accounting major minoring in music, is a case in point, as he describes his experience comparing old and new music in the survey class.

“[Dr. Grieco] said literally take whatever songs you want and you’ll probably find some similarities,” Johnson said. “And when I just put up two random songs and found so much in common, I knew for a fact that this man actually taught me something.”

Grieco has a hands-on style that students like Hunt and Johnson find engaging.

XMusica members at the Spring Showcase. Photo courtesy of Dr. Grieco

“I love the fact that he isn’t a textbook teacher,” Johnson said. “But the way [he’s] going to teach you is, you’re going to try it and you’re going to figure it out; you’re going to struggle at times. . .but you’re also getting hands-on learning.”

Although Grieco’s 20 years in academia had him working in college administration in the early part, he never stopped composing and teaching students in his private studio, and he always knew he wanted to get back to the classroom, as he did in 2017 at Cabrini.

“I really missed that one-on-one interaction with the students in the classroom, and being able to see them grow as musicians,” Grieco said.  “I truly enjoy teaching, and my hope is that I can instill a passion in students whether they go on for a career in music or not. I just want them to be excited about music and pass that along.”

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Leo Melancon

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