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Herb Alpert Music Center

The Herb Alpert Music Center - West entrance


The first Associate in Arts degrees were conferred on June 19, 1931.History and Alumni

Los Angeles Junior College was established on September 9, 1929 by the Los Angeles Board of Education. The college offered "semi-professional courses" for students who wanted to limit their college education to two years, and "certificate courses" for those looking to continue toward university work.

Leslie P. Clausen, member of the Department of Music from 1931 - 1972 and Department Chair for the last 26 years of his career, organized the weekly concert series in 1932, a series still in existence as Music 152. He also helped establish the Commercial Music curriculum, and the Music building bore his name for decades. 

With the establishment of its Commercial Music curriculum in 1946, LA City College became the first college in the nation to offer a degree in jazz. Indeed, numerous important jazz musicians attended LA City College, including Chet Baker, Irving Bush, Eric Dolphy, Bob Florence, Herb Geller, Jerry Goldsmith, Les McCann, Charlie Mingus, Lennie Niehaus, Tommy Oliver, Jack Sheldon, Julius Wechter and Hal Owen.

In 2016, the Herb Alpert Foundation, led by legendary trumpeter and A&M record executive Herb Alpert with his wife Lani, announced a gift of $10.1 million to the LACC Music Department. The historically large gift led to the creation of the Herb Alpert Scholarship, allowing students at any level to pursue a higher education in music with completely free tuition. Our Music Department became synonymous with the name for our newly renovated building, the Herb Alpert Music Center. 

Today, the Applied Music Program allows for direct transfer pathways to four-year institutions like CalArts, and the Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA. Over the years, the Department gradually expanded its Certificates to its current offerings of Instrumental Performer (in either Brass, Guitar, Percussion, Piano, Strings or Woodwinds), Vocal Performer, Composer, and Music Technology.

Many talented musicians have studied at Los Angeles City College, including:

David Alpert, musician/co-owner of A&M Records
Roy Ayers, jazz musician
Chet Baker, jazz musician
Robert Bradley, blues musician
Irving Bush, jazz musician
Eric Dolphy, jazz musician
Jean Fenn, Metropolitan Opera Company
Bob Florence, jazz musician/composer
Don Friedman, jazz pianist
Herb Geller, jazz musician
Jerry Goldsmith, composer, Academy Award® recipient
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame songwriters
M.C. Hammer, R&B musician, Grammy® recipient
Howard Leese, rock musician and producer
George London, opera star, Director of the Kennedy Center
Lebo M, composer
Les McCann, jazz pianist/singer
Charlie Mingus, jazz musician
Lennie Niehaus, jazz musician
Odetta, folk singer
Tommy Oliver, jazz musician
Hal Owen, jazz musician
Dianne Reeves, jazz singer, Grammy® recipient
Robin Russell, drummer - member of New Birth/Nite-Liters
Jack Sheldon, jazz musician
Leonard Slatkin, conductor
Ed Thigpen, jazz musician
Russ Titelman, music producer, Grammy® recipient, songwriter
John Williams, Academy Award®–winning composer
La Monte Young, composer


You can help us compile our list by submitting your name! If you attended the LACC Department of Music in the past and would like your name on our list, send in your Alumni Information Form today.

Alumni Information Form

Email the completed form to

Or print it out and mail to:

Department of Music Alumni Response
Attn: Caroline Reyes
855 North Vermont Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90029

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