Behind the MBT at OCC

By Yvette Miller, Columnist

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Behind the MBT at OCC (Part II)

This is the second in our series or articles on the music instructors in the Music Business Technology Program here at Owens Community College


The microphone is ready for the music majors at Owens.

Photo by: Katie Buzdor
Robert Ticherich: The Beat Keeper

Room 140 of the Center for Fine and Performing Arts is always resonating with the sound of music. Audio Recording Instructor Robert Ticherich teaches students modern recording techniques on the latest industry standard equipment. But to the students he is more than just an instructor; he is the leader of the band. Not only is he well versed in the use of the equipment, but also a fine musician in his own right. As an accomplished drummer, he gives his students more to aspire to and a desire to better develop their own musicianship.

In addition to his teaching duties at Owens he also records, performs and tours with several well-known bands including Noah Budin and Tangled Blue. In the past he was also a part of Nimbus, a Jazz trio. He also performed and recorded with Light Works-a Christian Rock band. Ticherich has also performed in several musical theater productions. His longest and most extraordinary performance was at the Playhouse Square in Cleveland performing in more than 800 performances of the show Tony n Tina’s Wedding.

“Rob”, as he is called by his students, is down to earth, knowledgeable, accessible and always willing to go the extra mile for those willing to learn.

He is also somewhat modest when it comes to the spotlight. It took some persuading to get him to agree to this interview, but eventually he came around and agreed to answer a few questions for me:


Q: How long have you been an instructor at Owens?

A: This is my fourth semester teaching at Owens but I spent the last 15 years at Cuyahoga Community College teaching music technology and recording arts classes.

Q: What is your educational level?

A: I attended Baldwin-Wallace Conservatory for two years and studied classical percussion under George Kiteley. From there I transferred to Berklee College of Music in Boston and studied Jazz and Latin Jazz under Victor Mendoza and Ed Uribe, among others. I returned to Ohio and transferred to Bowling Green State University. I earned my Bachelors degree in music performance from BGSU under Dr. Roger Schuup, and my Masters degree from Cleveland State University under Tom Freer (Cleveland Symphony Orchestra) and Bob McKee (Kirk Douglass show).   I’ve also attended several masters classes from renowned drummers such as Dave Weckl, Steve Smith, Peter Erskine, Jo-Jo Meyer and Virgil Donati.

Q: What brought you to Owens?

A: I had performed with then Professor Michael Sander (now Chair of Fine and Performing Arts) in November of 2012 for the Fall Artist Series, Creative Noises.  At that time I had a chance to see the campus and tour the Fine and Performing Arts building. I was impressed that the building housed music, recording technology, photography, theater and computer graphics. I saw the potential for collaboration between those disciplines, which was rare and difficult to accomplish at Tri C. When a full time position in Music Business Technology was offered, I felt like this was the right place to go and the right time for me.


Sound equipment sits in the newly updated tech labs in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts building. photo by: Katie Buzdor

Q: What makes the fine arts program of Owens different? What do we have to offer potential students coming to the program?

A: Most schools and universities that teach recording technology have a studio in which the students watch the instructor record at a single mixing console, and will then get very little actual hands on time to practice and learn. At Owens, there is a mixer, microphone, patch bay, interface and computer on every workstation in the audio recording lab, enabling all students to get hands on recording experience every class meeting. Beyond the facilities, we have excellent instructors who care about the students.

We also have very gifted instructors here: Fred Dias the concert band conductor, Ben Wolkins who leads the Jazz Express and Eric Wallack who leads the Pop Ensemble. Students keep returning because they are getting a great education from directors who care about them as a person, not just a student they are teaching.

Specific to the Music Business Technology department, Rex Maze is a nationally recognized composer who continually challenges students to go further with their musical creativity. Walt McKeever has plenty of professional experience with bands in both recording and performing. Chris Stoll owns and operates Audioflare Recording Studio. Denise Grupp-Verbon teaches our business classes and emphasizes the need for attention to detail in marketing and in law.

Overall I have found that the fine arts program has great people who are professionals at what they do, and genuinely care about student success. We have a unique facility that’s being updated every semester with state of the art hardware and industry standard software to prepare our students for work in the real world.

Q: What inspires you musically?                                                              

A: Honest dedication and preparation to ones craft. I had the chance to sit in the fifth row to see Jazz vibraphonist Gary Burton and pianist Makoto Ozone perform an hour of flawless music. Each of them technically as good as you can possibly get on their respective instrument, and the performance was so relaxed it gave the illusion that what they were doing was simple. In reality what they did in that performance was practically impossible. I could say the same for the Cleveland Orchestra, Latin Jazz pianist Michel Camilo, or even drummer Vinnie Colaiuta when he toured with Sting. To perform at the level of these artists requires a lifetime of practice, dedication and the fortitude to persevere through the tough times.   You don’t have to look to the national stage to see that level of dedication though. I mentioned Denise Grupp-Verbon earlier. She is also a harpist and despite her busy schedule she manages to prepare and perform a concert every fall at Owens for the Creative Noises concert series. Her ability and dedication shines through at these performances and she would be on even footing with any of the aforementioned artists.

Q: What instruments do you play?

A: I’m a trained percussionist and drum set is my primary instrument. I have studied piano, acoustic guitar and bass guitar, but I would never perform on those instruments!

Q: Do you have any outside music gigs?

A: For the past 25 years I have been a freelance musician playing in rock, folk and jazz groups, as well as pit percussion for many semi professional and professional theaters in Cleveland. A few times a year I travel with the band Tangled Blue to some of their larger venue performances. Those are typically at national youth gatherings in places like New Orleans, San Antonio and Denver and usually attendance is not less than a thousand although we did play for 400 students in Fargo, ND! I also play weekly church services with a contemporary choir at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Westlake Ohio. That helps me to stay focused and keep practicing.

Q: What is the most important thing that you would like to leave with all of your students? What would you like them to take away from your class?

A: Two Things:

1-If you honestly prepare for your career (or anything), you will eventually have the opportunity to realize your goal, but it will take longer than what television and media suggests. 

2- The learning process should be one of constant discovery.  Each semester should prepare you for the next beginning, and earning a degree should be the stepping stone to the next part of your education.  If you get to the point where you feel you can’t learn more, you should probably find a new career.

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