Hamline’s Bush Memorial Library remains a quiet place, though part of its basement was recently redesigned to be a place where artists are encouraged to make some noise.
Hamline’s Music Production Certificate was launched in 2020, along with the construction of a 24-channel professional recording studio outfitted with digital, analog and hybrid recording gear. In the Bush Library studio, students receive training in the latest platforms and tools to amplify their artistic voice and help chart their careers.
The certificate program combines both music production and business education to provide a foundational curriculum that includes sound mixing and other technical production classes, alongside artist-driven business courses that dive into subjects like royalty rates, contractual language and taxes.
“There is an appetite for things that feel relevant,” Program Director Jeff Bailey said. “Pedagogically, we understand why a young person born in 2005 has less interest in music from the 1700s, as opposed to music of their day – and that reinforces the direction we're going. We absolutely have opportunities for traditional wind ensemble and orchestra, but we understand that jazz, hip-hop, neo-soul, indie rock, folk-whether students love Jimi Hendrix, Beyoncé, or Ed Sheeran, including all of those genres feels important to us...there are beautiful, creative, and challenging examples of music in all of that! Lots of learning potential embedded in all of that.”
The certificate, with an emphasis on practical but creative work in music production, introduces students to more viable music careers that can support greater artistic ambitions. In one of the fall courses, students were challenged to write purpose-driven music to underscore a museum tour or fit a sports commercial.
Now instead of simply thinking ‘I want to write music for me,’ students are thinking about how important it is to network and build different revenue streams, realizing all these bits and pieces are how artists make money, Bailey explained.
“I've learned techniques that make me a versatile person in the studio. I've learned how to be a businessman to keep my interests at the forefront,” said Stephen Carlson, of Chaska, an undergrad pursuing the contemporary music production minor.
The curriculum also encourages students to explore non-traditional learning techniques. Another fall project saw students learn how to perform a song by ear rather than reading sheet music – and then teach the song to another student.
“The idea is to step into that aural skills tradition,” Bailey said. “Can we learn together to better hear what’s actually happening by listening to a performance of a pop record? Can we digest and comprehend the nuances in the music, in the background vocals, in the song structure?”
Overall, the music production courses, whether taken together for the certificate or a la carte by music majors and others, provide Hamline students with digital and business skills that support successful careers in music.
“If COVID showed artists anything, it’s that you better be able to create from your home. That means you need to know how to use a digital audio workstation, you need to know how to record and mix and send it out,” Bailey said.