Tuesday February 21, 2017

Faculty Profile: Jim McCutcheon

Jim McCutcheon, artist-in-residence in the University of Dayton department of music, has been selected to receive the 2017 Ohio Governor's Award for Arts Education. Bestowed by the Ohio Arts Council, the prize recognizes McCutcheon’s passionate contribution to music education for nearly 39 years. He will receive the award May 17 at a luncheon ceremony during the annual Arts Day events at the Columbus Athenaeum.

McCutcheon's weekly schedule reflects his qualification for receiving this award. If you’ve taken a guitar lesson in the city of Dayton, there’s a good chance the two of you have bumped shoulders. Over the course of a week, McCutcheon will teach almost 100 University students guitar in classes, give another 30 to 40 students private lessons, coach a classical guitar ensemble and teach a professional development class to strings majors. In addition, he will spend a day each at Wright State University and Miami University teaching their students guitar.

He’s had a consistent hand in K-12 music education in schools throughout Ohio, teaching about the intersection of music and science. With his wife, McCutcheon owns a music store in Centerville, Ohio, called McCutcheon Music. With a staff of more than 50 professional music teachers, he provides even more private lessons three days a week. And if all that were not enough, McCutcheon broadcasts a Dayton Public Radio show (Discover Classical, 88.1 FM), The Intimate Guitar, on Saturday nights and Sunday mornings.

This is quite the interesting schedule for someone who graduated from the University of Dayton with a bachelor’s degree in physics. McCutcheon, a music lover since age 8, didn’t pursue music full-time until after college graduation in 1973. With an acceptance to medical school in one hand and an offer to tour with his band, Quintessence, in the other, he chose to give a career in music a shot, and seemingly never looked back.

After touring from 1973-1975, McCutcheon came back home to Dayton ready to commit to music.

“I was doing music 65 hours per week, and at the end of each week I was more energized than I had been before,” McCutcheon said. So, he earned his bachelor’s degree in classical guitar from Wright State University - the first person with this degree in Montgomery County, Ohio.

McCutcheon then approached Patrick Gilvary, who was the performing and visual arts department chair at the University at the time, with a bold claim that the University needed a classical guitar professor. After a 30-minute meeting, McCutcheon was hired onto the music faculty with just a bachelor’s degree.

If that alone does not speak to his character and passion for music education, department of music chair Sharon Gratto can. She said the Ohio Governor’s Awards for the Arts are highly competitive, and commended McCutcheon’s energy and love for his instrument and his chosen profession.

“My only reason to be surprised about this award for Professor McCutcheon was because I did not realize he had been nominated,” Gratto said.

In a career full of so many fulfilling experiences, one might wonder about some of the highest points. The list included mentorship from Bunyan Webb, playing with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, receiving the inaugural award from UD for “Outstanding Contributions from a Full-time, Non-Tenure-Track Faculty Member,” and being honored with the Governor’s Award.

McCutcheon said, “There have been lots of high points, that’s for sure. It’s hard to choose one… but this award is definitely one of them.”

At age 65, McCutcheon has little intention of stopping his career in music education. “For me, there’s no end in sight,” he said. “I feel like I’m just now hitting my musical stride.”

In the rare moments between classes and private lessons, McCutcheon’s time is spent with his wife, Debbie, and his four grandsons who live in Beavercreek.

- Nikki Kamp, ‘17

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