Associate in Fine Arts (AFA) – Music

This music degree is designed for transfer to a four-year university music program of study. If you prefer smaller classes, more one-on-one interaction and feedback, and excellent preparation for your transfer and placement in a university music program, this is the degree that will best prepare you for success. This program offers your first two years of courses – such as theory, applied music (private lessons), and performance opportunities – in a culturally diverse learning environment, within a high-tech and modern facility, complete with practice rooms, keyboard labs, and multiple performance venues.

Credentialing Options

Frequently Asked Questions

You will need to follow the general enrollment process for GTCC. During the advising process, you will have the opportunity to indicate your desire to study within this curriculum. Your advisor will help you sign up for the specific courses you need.

Mark Dillon, Ph.D.

More commonly referred to as “Dillon,” Mark Dillon is the prototypical DIY musician. He has worked as a recording musician, luthier, and academic since starting his musical career in the early 1990s. His grandparents spent their lives as country musicians touring the United States since the late 1920s, and this sense of musical self-reliance was a direct influence on him as a musician.

As a working musician, Mark has worked with a diverse group of artists, such as The Chicago Symphony Orchestra, N.C. string band The Zinc Kings, Randolph Jazz Band, and even the UNCG Indian music ensemble. In addition to his ongoing playing, Dillon spent 12 years as a high school band director and has degrees in music theory, guitar building, a master's in music education, and is finishing everything but his dissertation for his Ph.D. in music education.

One of Dillon’s central focus as an educator is teaching students to be proactive in their careers and education. As a child of the 1980s, he has watched as the nature of the music business has changed, and the diminishing cost of technology has led to musicians having the ability to be their own music labels and recording studios. As a performing songwriter in the 1990s, Dillon learned – and emphasizes – the importance of self-marketing and home studio recording. After moving to North Carolina in the early 2000s, Dillon also began specializing in the music of the North Carolina Piedmont.

After teaching courses in recording and music in public education and at the University of North Carolina Greensboro (UNCG), Dillon joined Guilford Technical Community College as an instructor of music. He also continues his work on the leadership board of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA), as well as playing music and pursuing academics.

Lawrence Spell, Ph.D.

Lawrence Spell has dedicated his career to inspiring students to achieve the highest standards of musical performance. Before joining the faculty of Guilford Technical Community College, Spell served as director of orchestras at Salt Lake Community College and assistant conductor for the Utah Youth Orchestras and Ensembles in Salt Lake City. Throughout his career, he has developed a reputation for getting results from student musicians by creating a positive and collaborative rehearsal environment. In fall 2019, Spell joined the conducting faculty at the University of Utah and served as acting director of orchestras. In addition to his collegiate positions, Spell was also the music director and conductor for the Wasatch Symphony, one of the oldest orchestras in Utah.

Spell earned a Doctorate of Musical Arts degree from the University of Utah and a Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from East Carolina University. During his time at the University of Utah, Spell served as the assistant conductor for the university orchestras and the Salt Lake Symphony. Before moving to Salt Lake City, Spell was the music director and conductor of the Pitt Community College Symphony Orchestra in Greenville, N.C. The PCCSO was founded by Spell to provide a learning ensemble for Pitt Community College music students and an opportunity for community musicians to continue practicing their art. In addition to his duties leading the orchestra, Spell was responsible for ensuring the success of all the performing arts programs at PCC in his role as the coordinator for music and drama. Spell was also music director and conductor for the Symphony of Hope, an annual benefit concert that has raised thousands of dollars for cancer treatment.

Spell has devoted a large portion of his academic research and published writing to the application of Laban Movement Analysis to conducting pedagogy. In this area, he has studied with Certified Movement Analyst Jackie Hand and Charles Gambetta, the developer of the Embodied Conducting Method. Spell uses LMA in both his private conducting studio and his collegiate conducting classes. Spell was recently appointed to the conducting faculty of the Mastering the Concerto workshop, a component of the Embodied Conducting Institute in Vidin, Bulgaria. At the workshop, Spell mentors conducting students from around the world.

Ronnal Ford, Ph. D.

A versatile musician and educator, Ronnal Ford (@RonFordMusic and holds the principal oboe seat in the Colour of Music Festival and the second oboe and English horn seat in the Fayetteville Symphony. Additionally, he performs with touring groups such as Thee Phantom and the Illharmonic and plays in musical theater companies around North Carolina. The Fayetteville Symphony has also featured him as a soloist on English horn (Aaron Copland's "Quiet City") and alto saxophone (John Williams’s "Escapades” from Catch Me If You Can"), and the Colour of Music Festival has featured as a soloist in the Vivaldi Concerto for Two Oboes.

In addition to his performance duties, Ford is an instructor at Guilford Technical Community College. He previously taught at the UNC School of the Arts, N.C. A&T State University, Forsyth Technical Community College, and Winston-Salem State University. He is adamant about instilling the foundational musical concepts in future musicians so that they may succeed in their musical endeavors.

Along with the large ensembles he performs, Ford plays in the award-winning reed quintet, Quintet Sirocco; is an arranger; and records videos for his one-man orchestra, the Ron Ford Orchestra. When he is not busy performing, recording, and teaching, Ford enjoys riding his motorcycle around the Southeast with his husband, cooking for his family, and playing with his children and pets.

Yes. Financial aid is available if you qualify. Please visit the Financial Aid web page or contact the Financial Aid office at 336-334-4822, option 3.

The AFA music degree requires general admission to the college and an audition. Please contact the Music program faculty for instrument and voice-specific audition requirements. Contact the AFA Music faculty to set up an interview and assessment (Mark Dillon, 336-334-4822, ext. 55051, or

GTCC is one of only a few community colleges in the state that offers the AFA Music transfer degree. Our faculty has dedication and experience that will provide you with the best learning environment and preparation for future success.

Yes. GTCC is part of the state-wide articulation agreement with the UNC system for the transfer of courses completed. Audition and placement exams may be required at certain institutions.

If you are an instrumentalist, it is necessary to have a professional instrument. This does not mean an expensive instrument but an instrument that is properly intonated and set up.