Technology Courses for College Musicians
Assistant Professor of Music
Music Ministry Program Coordinator
Central Methodist University
This academic year, I had the pleasure for teaching a pair of new courses at Central Methodist University. Fundamentals of Music Technology and Advanced Music Technology were offered during the 2016-17 academic year as a part of our recently developed Bachelor of Music in Music Ministry, which is a professional degree designed to train worship leaders, creative arts directors, and professional church musicians.
Fundamentals of Music Technology is designed for both musicians and non-musicians. Focusing on techniques related to live performance, the course included topics such as physical properties of sound, acoustics, audio equipment, live effects, editing software, synthesis, and music notation technology. Students were asked to complete assignments such as critical reviews of particular products, video demos of assigned equipment, fantasy news segments related to technology and live performance, and written manuals for existing technologies.
Advanced Music Technology was a continuation of themes from the first semester, but in a recording context. Unit topics included using a digital audio workstation, fundamentals of MIDI, the recording industry, sequencing computer-generated music, using effects in the studio, performing with prerecorded music, and technology in an art music context. Many assignments for the course required our students to work with our new professional recording equipment endowment, which is located on-site. Students also complete in-home recording exercises as well, using digital audio workstations and recording software on their own devices. The results were quite good, as the capstone assignment for the course was a fully orchestrated recording of a song of their choice. Students could choose a preexisting piece for the project, or compose their own work. They were required to use a melodic instrument or voice, a harmonic instrument or voice, a bass instrument or voice, and a rhythmic instrument.
We are excited about what the future holds for this course sequence, as well as the Music Ministry program in general at Central Methodist, as our recording endowment and enrollment continue to grow. This fall brings the offering of two more new courses in the program at CMU, Worship Design and Music Business. Worship Design is purposed to teach students how to create a church service from the musician’s perspective. From choosing music, to collaborating with a pastor, to implementing technology, to training and supporting volunteers, students learn practical skills that help them execute a worship service. Music business focuses on an entrepreneurial approach to accounting, budgeting, marketing, and other financial practices that any musician can use as a utility in their survival and independence in the industry. We’re thrilled about the new courses and the developing program.