Music Technology Hits A High Note On WP Campus

By Ashley Neff

The Music Industry and Technology program is a tucked away treasure in White Plain that makes an impressive addition to Mercy’s degree offerings.

Only 12 years in existence, this facility offers extensive preparation for job opportunities and other music/sound related professions. For the fortunate students participating in this technology-filled center, opportunity abounds. Despite the small space and hidden location, it is chock full of modern technology and enthusiastic learners.

Director Paul Steinman says he is introducing his students to a wide variety of guest lecturers each month who will help teach them techniques needed for this industry. Along with the lecturers, he familiarizes them with intricate sound studios, and large computer labs fully equipped with Macintosh computers. Students learn how to edit and mix sounds and music, as well as install sound equipment.

Among the guest lecturers include Grammy award winning, smooth jazz king, Phil Magnotti; famous drummer and record producer, Steve Jordan; and Jimmy Greco, a writer and producer who has previously worked with Jennifer Lopez, Carlos Santana and Celine Dion.

Luckily for the music majors, the guest lecturers provide a lot of insight to the industry they may join one day. Steinman admits, “A lot of students end up working for our guests.”

The Music Industry and Technology is a sixty credit major with four areas of study; music theory, electronic music, recording engineering, and music/entertainment business. The program has approximately 100 students, only fifteen percent being female. The students are among the youngest population of student majors, being only around 20 to 21 years of age. Many of their students are from out of state such as Virginia, Florida, and Vermont, and either dorm at Dobbs Ferry or reside in White Plains.

In order to be accepted into the program, students must have experience with singing, music production, or with an instrument. They must provide a demo tape as well. This program is placed within the Center for Digital Arts, which offers not only Music Industry major classes, but Computer Arts major classes as well. The computer arts courses include gaming, animation, film and television. In total, the Center for Digital Arts houses approximately 220 students.

Steinman admits that quite often, the music majors will combine with the computer arts majors to add sound effects and sound editing to their games, animations, and so forth.

“Music production is heavily based on computer studios, spending a lot of time using industry standard production software,” says Steinman. “We are looking into Apple and Avid for software certification classes.”

Since ultimately all of the music production work is done on computers, it is practical that the music industry majors and computer arts majors would work together.

It is apparent that this tightly- knit community of students is quite like a family. Music Industry and Technology senior Nick Sosa said, “it’s like its own little underground society down there.”

When in the underground castle, one can notice many students working together to help each other learn. Steinman acknowledges that the students actually form bands within the program. These students record CDs, primarily in hip-hop, rock, pop and contemporary. Some also record heavy metal, Latin, and blues. However, only two or three current students are interested in classical music.

The little music community formed from this program is not however, unknown. Steinman and the rest of the Music Industry staff open their recording studios free of charge to regionally acclaimed musicians. The students gain real world production experience, which is more than anyone could pay for studio time. A number of CDs have been recorded here, among them being former New York Yankee Bernie Williams and his band.

Prof. Bob Peremsky has headed the program. “Mercy Music Cares,” in which students in the program perform for kids in hospitals. A group of music majors also composed a CD for an ill cancer patient. The Center for Digital Arts is not just exposing its students to a career, but to surrounding communities so the students get experience in other important issues.

Graduate students have earned jobs such as audio supervisors for Good Morning America and ABC News. Broadway shows also provide students with jobs as well as radio stations and advertising agencies, all which include some sort of sound or music involvement.