When Professor Joseph Bilotti teaches one of his music classes at County College of Morris (CCM), he brings a dual perspective that resonates with students.A graduate of the collegeâ€™s music program, he was taught and mentored by CCM professors, and launched a successful career as a musician as a result of what he learned.
"I would not be the musician I am today if I had not come here," says Bilotti, who has taught at CCM since 1989.Â "I stand as a person who was lacking a comprehensive musical background but who found that training at CCM."
After graduating from high school, Bilotti, like many students, was uncertain about what he wanted to do next.At age 5 he began playing the ukulele, the instrument his grandfather played at family sing-alongs.At age 7, he transitioned to the guitar.
"I was uncertain about my future so I came here and majored in music because I didnâ€™t know what to do," recalls Bilotti.Studying classical music and working with Dr.John Gorman (now retired) and the rest of the music faculty, he adds, "I was awakened to the piano."
Today, Bilotti is a successful musician on both the guitar and piano.Â He is a member of the band Soft Parade: Tribute to the Doors, which has toured 20 countries during its 21-years of performance.Â He also can be found on stages throughout the New York metropolitan area in the Heart of Gold Band with his wife, pianist and keyboardist Joan Bujacich, or his original band, Eastern PotÃ£ta.
Shortly after enrolling in the music program at Montclair State University, where he earned his masterâ€™s degree, CCM invited him back to teach.Â Today he teaches Music Theory, Piano, and Rock History & Culture.
Teaching at CCM, he says, is a particularly rewarding experience because of the chance it gives him to work with students who are very much as he once was.
"CCMâ€™s open door policy gave me the opportunity to learn the piano from the ground up.Â Now Iâ€™m able to give back what I received," he says.Â "Itâ€™s an honor of a lifetime.Itâ€™s a full-circle experience."