John Cooper

John Cooper
207-801-5706 | | faculty website

John CooperJohn Cooper has served as Professor of Music and Composer in Residence at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor since 1989. Previously he held positions at the University of Pennsylvania, and Lincoln University.

Cooper publishes his classical work exclusively with Dorn Publishing, and will be featured in an upcoming issue of the Saxophone Journal. Donald Sinta, world renowned classical saxophonist, and Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan, has commented on Cooper's 1st Sonata for Alto Saxophone: "I love it. It's from the heart and I identify with all of it." Cooper's 1982 text on Jazz Improvisation, "Steps Ahead" has recently been reprinted by request for use by the Rowan University Jazz Program, under the direction of renowned saxophonist Denis DiBlasio.

John is a saxophonist (Woodwinds), bassist, jazz vocalist, brass doubles, and synthesist/pianist (MIDI Keyboards) with an active performance schedule that has included the major venues in Philadelphia/Baltimore and the casinos of Atlantic City, as well as the Maine Center for the Arts and various sites in Downeast Maine. John has performed with the following notable jazz artists: Cecil Payne, Neville York(Steel Drum Artist), Grover Washington, Jr., Bill Watrous, Marvin Stamm, Jim Snidero, Charlie Ventura, Al Cohn, Clark Terry. John has also composed numerous film scores and served as conductor of the Maine All State Jazz Band in 1995, and the Maine All State Jazz Honors Band in 1999 and has been contracted to conduct the Maine All State Jazz Combo in 2005.

B.A. Trenton State, 1975
M.A. Music, Trenton State, 1981

Courses Taught

AD4015Film Sound and Image

This hands-on course will explore sound composition, editing, and mixing to create soundtracks for video and/or film.  Students who take this course must have a background in music composition and/or sound and video production in order to collaborate on creative video/sound projects.  Sound recordings will include music and voice as well as everyday sounds and special sound effects.  The class will incorporate a number of group projects as well as individual exercises to illustrate sound recording and mixing strategies. We will also study sound in relation to video/film through readings and screenings.  In addition to class assignments, students will start developing sound tracks for their independent projects.  Students will be evaluated on their success in creating compositions, recordings, and mixes for video/film projects; and their ability to bring together moving pictures with a soundtrack to create a whole that is more than the sum of its parts.  Students will also be evaluated on their participation in class discussions and exercises.

Level: Intermediate/advanced.  Prerequisites: Background in music composition and/or sound and video production.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: $40.  Meets the following degree requirements: AD

AD1020History of Western Music

This course covers the traditions of western "ART" music from the era of Renaissance (1450-1600) through Baroque (1600-1750), Classical (1750-1820), Romantic (1820-1900), Impressionism (early 1900s) and into the 20th century primarily in Europe.  Through these five centuries of Eurocentric artistic development the areas of music, art, literature, philosophy, religion, and architecture continuously merge.  Extensive study is devoted to how this "convergence of ideas' led to the advancement of the western society and its direct descendent, the Americas.  Major composers covered include Gabrieli, Bach, Handel, Mozart, Schubert, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Brahms, Wagner, Puccini, Chopin, Strauss, Liszt, Rimsky-Korsakoff, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Debussy, Ravel, Ives, Copland.  The course requires extensive reading, listening to recordings, and video observation.

Level:  Introductory. Lab fee: $10 Meets the following degree requirements: HY AD

AD4010Improvisation in Music

This "hands on" theory/performance course for singers, instrumentalists, guitarists, pianists, drummers, etc., deals with improvisation, a spontaneous exchange or interplay of musical ideas and moods. It offers the musician the opportunity to utilize his/her technical ability to its fullest extent while enjoying the creative freedom of spontaneous composition. The class addresses technical and aesthetic aspects of improvisation in all styles of music (Jazz, Rock, Blues, Classical, Folk, etc.), including the elements of melodic development, melodic cliches, rhythmic and melodic embellishment, harmonic substitutions, and development of the ear. It is multilevel in format, allowing for students of all technical proficiency to participate. In addition to two class sessions weekly (where extensive time will is spent in performance situation), each student also meets with the instructor on a private basis. In short, this course enables students to use the "tools of improvisation" to be able to make a "personal musical statement" while playing, singing, "jamming," etc. 

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Lab fee: $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD1018Introduction to Guitar

This course is a fundamental study in guitar chord construction, note reading, chord symbol identification, fingerboard facility, theory as related to guitar, chord inversions, and scale and mode work.  Students are expected to attain introductory improvisational skills and basic facility in practical guitar performance.

Level: Introductory. Students must provide own instruments (acoustic or electric). Lab fee: $10.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD1012Introduction to Keyboard/Piano

This is a learn-the-basics course in which the essentials of keyboard harmony are introduced in order for the student to be able to play functional piano.  Areas of study include basic chords (major, minor, diminished, and augmented and their inversions), 7th chords, basic fingering and scale patterns, finger dexterity, rhythm drills, aural perception, and reading lead sheets/sheet music.  This is a practical, hands-on course for those interested in playing not only piano, but also organ and synthesizers.  Introduction to MIDI is also included.  Keyboard II is a continuation of practical technique leading to keyboard fluency. 

Level: Introductory.  Prerequisites: none.  Class limit: 20.  Lab fee: $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD468Introduction to Violin

This course is a fundamental study of the violin. Topics covered will include bowing, fingerboard development/fluency, fingering/position work and facility, note reading, theory as related to violin, and scale and mode work. Students are expected to develop physical facility, mental facility, and aural facility through class instruction in twice-weekly one and a half hour classes, weekly one-on-one sessions with the instructors, and daily individual practice. Evaluation will be based on progress as demonstrated during class and individual sessions and an end of term project or performance. Level: Introductory. Prerequisites: Students must provide their own instruments, or may rent them for the 10 weeks of the term. Lab fee: $10. *AD*

MD1010Islands Through Time

14,000 years of Human Ecology on the Coast of Maine
The coast of Maine is an ideal location for studies of the effects of changing ecologies, landscapes, and cultures on the human experience. 14000 years ago, the entire area was covered with a dense ice sheet, and at present we are facing the uncertain future of Global Warming. Between these points, the coast and islands have experienced flood, fire, earthquakes, and an enormous range of human and non-human occupants. This team-taught course will use the inter-disciplinary lens of Human Ecology to examine the consequences, implications, and potential meanings of our dwelling within both this particular landscape and other landscapes perhaps initially more familiar to students. A strong emphasis will be placed upon developing a "sense of place" through the examination of a novel, scientific writing, music, and experiential venturing upon the land and seas, learning about the history, culture, ecology, oceanography and geology of the Maine coastline, both in and by the ocean. Although a substantial element of each day's work will take the form of field trips, students will also be responsible for readings, attending a series of lectures by faculty and local experts, and working with multimedia forms. Interest in music, writing, and ecology are strongly encouraged. Students will be evaluated based on class participation, a daily log of their experiences plus several short "response pieces" to assigned readings, and a multi-media presentation capturing some aspect of their learning. Students will receive narrative evaluations and a grade of CREDIT or NO CREDIT.

Level:  Introductory.  Prerequisites: Signature of Instructor.

AD1013Jazz, Rock, and Blues: From Their Origins to the Present

This course is a survey of the particular styles of music that have had such a profound effect on America, as well as the world in the twentieth century.  Students inquire of the social, cultural, and aesthetic elements that led to the creation of each style.  The use of recorded examples provides a chronological examination of the principle musicians and composers as well as an analysis of the more influential soloists and groups.  The course includes technical background into the various common musical "bonds of union" between Jazz, Rock, and Blues, as well as discussion concerning the permeation of these characteristics into secular and non-secular music of the 1900s.  There is considerable study of the social significance of the music, exploration of the broad cultural and artistic aspects of the music, how these styles changed and evolved, and how their growth related to parallel changes in fine art music.  

Level: Introductory.  Class is open to all students, regardless of musical experience. Lab fee: $10.  Meets the following degree requirements: HY, AD

AD1014Music Fundamentals: Intro to Reading/Hearing/Writing/Playing

This hands-on course deals with the aural, mental, and physical elements of music and its production.  It is divided into instructional segments including:  Ear Training and Aural Perception, Music Theory, Basic Keyboard Skills, Arranging and Composition, and Basic Guitar Skills.  [Detailed descriptions of segments available in Registrar's office.]  This course is open to all students, regardless of musical experience.  The sole prerequisite is a desire to make music or simply to enrich one's skills as a critical listener of music.  Efforts are made to accommodate the special needs of the musical novice, as well as to challenge the experienced performer.  Emphasis is on popular song styles, but analysis of Western Art Music forms are included for comparison purposes.

Level:  Introductory.  Lab fee $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: ADS

AD1017The History of Rock

The History of Rock......"We were just the spokesmen for a generation" A social history of Rock and Roll, from it's origination in the Blues, through the Rhythm and Blues of the 50's, into the era of Little Richard, Chuck Berry, and Elvis. From the British invasion to heavy metal, rap, and even Dylan and other poets like him that couldn't sing either. We've got it covered. You will listen to it, you will read about it, you will watch it happen on videos (no BeeGees or Tony Orlando)...we will connect it to the times......and what turbulent times they were. If you are interested in what happened culturally in this country between 1950 and today, you need not look any farther than this course. For "the music of the people", ROCK, accurately reflects the varying peaks and valleys of much of the events of the past half century. 

Level: Introductory. Lab fee $10.  Meets the following degree requirements: AD HY