The Conservatory has announced new one-year and two-year certificate programs for postgraduate students in Recording Arts and Production. The program is currently accepting applications for its first semester, which will begin this fall.
The program is spearheaded by Director of Audio Services Paul Eachus and Associate Director of Audio Services Andrew Tripp. They explained that the idea originated in the midst of the Academic and Administrative Program Review process.
“When AAPR initially started to get going, one of the things that they had charged everyone with was this mission to be a little more introspective about what it is that we do and how we can reach more people across campus [and] serve more communities,” Tripp said.
Building post-graduate certificate programs in the Conservatory was one of the official recommendations made in the One Oberlin final report.
“To strengthen the Conservatory brand and its ability to compete in the marketplace, we also recommend that Oberlin … create post-graduate study/experiences that would add value and generate revenue,” the final report read. “We have numerous opportunities to monetize existing resources outside of conventional four- or five-year degree programs.”
This prompted them to consider the knowledge and impressive technological resources available in the Conservatory’s Audio Services office that wasn’t being utilized to teach students.
“We were looking around, not only just [at the Clonick Hall recording studio], but all these other control rooms that we have, these great halls; performers, and wondering why we weren’t doing more with them,” Tripp said. “We have nine different venues and seven or eight different control rooms. … There were so many resources. There’s so much detailed, nuanced work that Paul and I do and there was no real outlet to teach that stuff. So I think it just made sense.”
This new Conservatory-based program is not the first of its kind. Oberlin already offers a two-year Artist Diploma in Piano Technology, which was part of the inspiration for this new endeavor.
“One of our goals with programs such as [Recording Arts and Production] is to create pathways into the institution for individuals beyond our usual target audience of traditional undergraduate-aged students,” Dean of the Conservatory William Quillen wrote in an email to the Review. “We believe that there are numerous individuals — postgraduate students, career-changers, non-traditionally aged students, and the like — who might be interested in programs such as this, and who would benefit from having access to an Oberlin education — and, in turn, would greatly enrich the school through their presence here.”
Students who complete the first year will earn a Professional Certificate in Recording Arts, and gain knowledge of the ins and outs of recording technology. Students who complete the second year will earn an Artist Diploma in Recording Arts and Production, and graduate with an understanding of how to run a recording session and produce music.
“[There’s] one year that’s really focused on sort of the technical aspects … that the type of production we do requires,” Tripp said. “Then if you really want to dig into start-to-finish production on really any type of music project — but in our area of expertise would be primarily acoustic recording — there’s that second year.”
Tripp and Eachus are optimistic that there is a demand for graduates with the skills and credentials that this program provides.
“It is a niche, small community of classical engineers in the country,” Eachus said. “And they’re always looking for assistance, people that know with the highest quality what’s going on. So we’re hoping we can fill that void as far as when [students] leave Oberlin, they’ll be able to move right into a position of assisting possibly a Grammy award-winning engineer. We’ve talked to engineers who are excited about the program.”
This program will also be beneficial to undergraduate Conservatory students, according to Eachus.
“One of the biggest parts of the program will be a constant feed of ensembles for them to record,” Eachus said. “The [Conservatory] students will get recorded much more in a professional sense than they are now, which will be great for both [musicians and Recording Arts and Production students]. They’ll end up with a great recording of their group, and the engineers … will get that great experience of working.”
Conservatory Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Peter Swendsen also feels confident that this program offers distinctive and valuable opportunities to prospective students.
“We looked closely at other programs and feel that ours will give students a unique option in several ways,” Swendsen wrote in an email to the Review. “Choosing a single-year or two-year timeframe [with] specific focus on recording and producing acoustic music, directly participating in the musical life of a world-class conservatory, and learning in a mentor-based system with significant opportunities [will] develop a personal artistic voice as well as technical proficiencies.”
Eachus and Tripp are planning to admit only three students for the first year. In the future, they don’t plan to grow the class size beyond eight, with the goal of providing an individualized learning experience. The program is currently accepting applications.