New audio minor to have sound implications

SUNY Oswego’s new interdisciplinary minor in audio design and production aims to meet student and industry demand while broadening opportunities for students.

Students work in Tyler music lab.The minor will create a production-centered learning environment to provide hands-on experience that accompanies audio theory.

The 24-credit program based in SUNY Oswego’s School of Communication, Media and the Arts includes courses in broadcasting, music and theatre in its 18-credit core, plus a large sampling of electives—such as multimedia courses through the art department.

“So much of electronic media depends on the successful mixing of music, special effects and dialogue that I’ve always thought from a broadcasting standpoint we should have more audio experience for our students,” said Fritz Messere, dean of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts.

The minor connects radio production courses, theatre sound classes and recording courses in music. “There is a lot of audio work happening on campus,” said Daniel Wood, a former professional recording engineer who now teaches students the tricks of the trade in the music department.

Aaron Reece of the music department is the program coordinator. “The minor provides students the flexibility to specialize in a number of audio fields,” Reece said. “If they want to use their knowledge to help them write the great American symphony, they can do that. If they want to learn how to produce an album, make multi-track recordings or design sound for theatre, we can help put them on that path.”

Audio moving into digital and software-driven formats, with greater dissemination via the web, has increased demand for graduates and even current students with the requisite skills, Wood noted. Since people can now edit on computers instead of needing to book studio time, both the opportunities and created content have exploded, Messere added.

Added marketability

The minor means that, for instance, music majors can add production specialization to their performance focus to make themselves more marketable. Those interested in working in radio can gain additional experience working live shows or recording.

Oswego’s focus on production opportunities has appealed to students like senior music majors Ken Bardin and Brad Gorham, who have found their passion in audio production.

“I enjoy being in this studio more than anything else,” said Gorham, a former touring and recording musician who now sees his future in production. “As a producer, you’re still being creative. You can influence others’ music. I like how we use a collaborative approach.”

Also coming in as a musician, Bardin has turned to recording and producing tracks for local performers and working live shows at Oswego—from Ke-Nekt and Artswego concerts with international artists to student recitals.

“You get to work in a professional setting, even as a student,” he said. “It’s great to have the minor because non-music majors can come in here and learn.”

The formation of the School of Communication, Media and the Arts last year—bringing together art, communication studies, music and theatre—provided the final impetus in creating the minor. “When we formed the new school, we really created avenues for people to work with each other across disciplines,” Messere said. “The minor strengthens all of the existing programs while creating new opportunities for our students.”

Having the project-based minor to make students aware of opportunities to work in a variety of formats—radio, live theatre sound and music production—could make the college more appealing to those with a passion or interest in sound work, whatever their major, Wood said.

“I think this also can lead to more community involvement,” Wood added. “Any kind of local entertainment or performer needing someone to help with audio can benefit from our students.”

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PHOTO CAPTION: Audio experience—SUNY Oswego senior music majors Ken Bardin (left) and Brad Gorham work with a recording by a local performer in the Tyler Hall recording studio. The new interdisciplinary minor in audio design and production should result in more students learning about and using sound and recording facilities, whether in broadcasting, music or theatre.

(Posted: Jul 21, 2010)

Tags: theatre, none, music, communication studies, broadcasting