CMS Forum Survey Summary: Designing a Music and Technology Degree

March 18, 2016

The CMS Forum’s Monthly Discussion for January and February focused on degrees in music technology and how traditional music schools are adapting their curriculum to include a greater emphasis on digital music composition, performance and production.

In today’s digital entertainment industry, it is more important than ever for music graduates to master digital recording techniques, in addition to their instrument. After all, digital media is the medium through which our music is most often created, found and heard. Students with the right skills can distribute their music to a global audience for commercial applications, streaming, licensing and much more. In fact, the opportunities for today’s musicians are limited only by their imagination and ability to take advantage of digital music opportunities online.

There were 21 total survey starts with 11 completions:

This survey found that the majority of respondents are not currently offering music and technology degrees. For example, the first question was “Does your school currently offer a music and technology degree”? Eight out of eleven respondents indicated that their school does not offer a music and technology degree. 

While most schools don’t specifically offer a music and technology degree, the majority of respondents indicated they are incorporating technology into their current program of study. For example, the second question asked “Is your school primarily a traditional degree program with very few or no music and technology courses”? Six out of eight respondents answered “no”. In other words, the major of schools do offer music and technology classes of some kind. 

The third question was “What music and technology courses are currently offered at your school”? Only three of eleven respondents answered this question. Their answers included Mixing and Mastering, Electronic Music, MIDI Synthesis, Studio Interconnection, Multimedia, Music Composition and Audio Post Production.

The fourth question was “ What is the primary area or areas of focus for your school’s music and technology degree? Only three respondents answered this particular question. Their answers included Music Production, Audio Post Production and Music and Technology with a focus in guitar, bass or drums.

In response to question number five, a number of schools indicated an internship or final project is part of their degree program. This is a great way to develop real world experience and a portfolio for job placement.

Question number six was “What is the primary reason for the music and technology degree at your school? Is it student recruitment/retention, job placement or other reasons”? Three respondents indicated their main goal is to give graduates the necessary skills to be successful in today’s tech heavy job market.

Question seven asked, “What is the most challenging aspect of designing and implementing a music and technology degree at your school”? One respondent stated “designing and teaching the ability to produce content that constantly takes advantage of the technology available to express ones emotional idea and not get lost in the technology itself, otherwise we are just an IT school”. I have found this to be challenging as well. Technology can take the place of musicality and soulful playing.

Question eight asked, “How does the enrollment in the music and technology degree compare with your school’s traditional offerings”? Of the three respondents who answered this question, all three stated it was their most popular offering.

Increasingly students entering school have at least some exposure to music and technology. Many use Logic, Ableton, Pro Tools or Garage Band as their primary instrument composing for upload to their own YouTube channels and social media sites. Most schools are adapting their curriculum to fit into this new reality, though they have not specifically designed a music and technology degree.

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