College expands music technology options with degree
January 07, 2014 11:00 AM
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FLINT, Mich. — Every famous producer had their humble beginnings. Rick Rubin had a four-track recorder, Kanye West had stacks of soul records on vinyl.

Mott Community College is taking steps to possibly make Flint the home of the next big name.

What started as one course in the spring of 2011 has grown so much interest that it is now being offered as an associate’s degree at Mott. The music technology degree started last fall and is expected to grow in the next year.

[PHOTO: Mott Community College student Kelsea Pearson, sets up microphones and other recording devices during a music recording class in the Mott Memorial Building in Flint, Mich. A music technology degree started this fall, and the program currently has eight courses ranging from an introduction course to classes that use more sophisticated equipment and software to an electronic music course. (AP Photo/, Jake May, File)]

From mixing music, working in the recording studio to understanding the skills of music technology, students will now have more access to the courses they need.

“Students would take one class and they’re hungry for it. They would ask, ‘Well, when’s the next class?’” said Bill Withem, assistant professor of music who created the music technology program. “The degree itself is exciting. It does offer the students the opportunity to get the basic foundation for everything out there.”

The program currently has eight courses ranging from an introduction course to classes that use more sophisticated equipment and software to an electronic music course.

Throughout the program, students will learn everything they need to use their skills into action in real world experiences. Students will learn what equipment to purchase, how to put things together, how to operate it, how to record and how to have an online presence, among other skills.

“They’ll have all the nuts and bolts here to get started and then from here they can move forward in the next step,” Withem said.

For many students the program just made sense.

It was something they were already interested in and it will help them become more well-rounded in their future careers.

Terrence Smith, 20, of Flushing, is double majoring in music and music technology because he felt like it was the perfect match. He was already taking some of the classes before the degree was offered, but now he’s hoping there will be more options and availability.

“I was geeked (when I heard about the degree),” Smith said. “It would go hand and hand (with my music major). If I have something in my head, I can just play it.”

He’s also learning new skills that he wouldn’t have learned before taking the classes, Smith said. He now has skills to help in the studio if he needs to and he can create his own home studio.

Robert Potrykus, 52, of Columbiaville, originally started going to Mott for media arts and entertainment because there wasn’t anything offered in music technology. But when classes started opening up the two concentrations paired nicely together, he said.

“My interest is in music,” Potrykus said. “I didn’t have the experience to fall back on so I decided to go through the program. ... (It’s) very much so worthwhile. Plus we get to use professional equipment in a controlled environment.”

Students use a music technology lab, as well as have experience in a recording studio.

There are plans to continue expanding the program in the next year.

“Every time I designed a new class it filled. ... It’s always growing,” Withem said.

Within the next year a live recording course will be offered. An auditorium will be set up to allow students to practice with sound, lighting and set up for musical groups in a live setting.

“That’s almost an art in itself to do it live. There’s a lot of interesting troubleshooting you have to do. ... We want students to have experience like that,” Withem said. “If you’re going to record you need to know everything.”

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