The Music Man

September 5, 2012 | Borough of Manhattan Community College

The Music Man

“I enrolled at BMCC as a stepping stone to a music career,” says Liberal Arts major Ngozi Maduakolam, who previously attended SUNY Delhi. “I studied marketing in the past, but after taking some time off from school, I decided to pursue what I really loved, and that was music. I wanted to go for it, full-throttle.”

Maduakolam, a New Yorker of Nigerian descent, credits his family, especially his brothers, for exposing him to all types of music. “There are so many different genres out there. Growing up, I loved hip-hop, R&B, and Michael Jackson, but I also liked Sting and Alanis Morrissette. I don’t play an instrument, but I love how music comes together.”

At his former college, the tech-savvy scholar used computer programs such as “Garage Band” to create various beats. “I would share them with my friends, who really liked them,” he explains. Maduakolam also interned at Universal Music Group in Manhattan to learn more about the music industry.

“I did mostly administrative work, but I didn’t mind,” he says. “I was just happy to be there, around creative people.”

He also won modernbeats.com’s online music campaign.

“Listeners said they liked my drums and chord progressions,” says Maduakolam. “They said the music was very clean and smooth.”

Music with Meltzer
Pleased to see that BMCC offered music courses, Maduakolam enrolled last semester in a Music of Western Civilization class taught by Professor Howard Meltzer.

“I found the course completely fascinating,” says Maduakolam. “We learned where and how music stemmed from over the years. As someone who always liked music instrumentation, the class completely piqued my interest.”

Maduakolam requested Meltzer as his faculty advisor. “Professor Meltzer was so patient. I asked many questions and he never got annoyed; he encourages questions,” says Maduakolam, adding, “We also share an interest in a variety of different music genres, and I liked learning how Professor Meltzer got his start in the business.”

Says Meltzer: “Musicians work in all areas of music, from playing horns in a symphony, to weddings, to musical theatre shows. Ngozi has a degree of interest in music that’s very deep and varied. He’s very inquisitive, flexible and open-minded and that’s what makes a musician.”

At BMCC, Maduakolam also served as Treasurer of the Music Club and received a Senator Ruth Hassell-Thompson Certificate of Academic Achievement from BMCC’s Honor Society of Black Student Scholars.

When he’s not making music or attending classes, Maduakolam volunteers for Rites of Passage, a program that encourages teenagers to take responsibility for their moral conduct as they enter into adulthood.

The Gig Win
This summer, Maduakolam entered a music contest at music venue Webster Hall.

It was an iStandardProducers Showcase, and he won the July competition, which was judged by music industry professionals. iStandardProducers Showcase is a web-based organization that hosts live events for producers to spotlight their music.

“I still can’t believe I won, because there were about 10 other people who also submitted their music,” says Maduakolam. “The judges asked, ‘Why are you not on the radio yet?’ It was great. I love making creative beats—and yes, I’m always wearing headphones!”

After winning the beats contest, Websyer Hall offered Maduakolam a music gig. “They invited me to come back as a producer,” he explains.

Maduakolam, who is slated to graduate from BMCC next year, looks forward to a career as a music producer for Broadway, or in the recording industry.

“College teaches you time management, which is important if you want to make music,” he explains. “If you can get through college, you can get through anything. Getting your degree shows the world you can juggle so many different things. I view college as boot-camp for real life.”