Music Technology Program Caters to Music Trends

Daniel Chavez Wright was already a successful singer/song writer when he enrolled in Northwest Vista College's Music Technology classes. His song “Lina Magic” was selected in 2010 to be the theme song of the MTV series “Skins.”

Following the college's student-centered learning approach, the Music Technology program has brought together non-traditional students like Chavez to create professional quality original music. One size doesn't fit all, and the curriculum is open-ended enough to foster creativity in students with different talents and needs.  

“Music education has been slow to respond to the changing realities of the music business. The conservatory approach comes from Mozart's time, but we also need to prepare students to work with the instruments of today, which is software,” said Bill Colangelo, PhD, Chavez's teacher this spring in Electronic Music I.  

Chavez' “Lina Magic” was picked over 6,000 other submissions to MTV to be the “Skins” theme. Dubbed by MTV as being one of “the most exciting artists in the indie-music scene,” Chavez has received coverage in the “Los Angeles Times,” “Our Stage,” “MTV Buzzworthy”, and the “Austin-American Statesman.”

Music technology courses are designed to prepare vocal or instrumental students with additional skills in computer music and recording technology. Training is provided in current music software and digital sound. Students acquire the skills necessary to use sequencers, sampling devices and other digital media as a composition, production, arranging and recording tool. Students also learn to compose and arrange music for corporate video, television, and film.

Colangelo said students have widely differing tastes from dub step, retro, seventies rock, hip-hop, and experimental dance music. For a final project in Electronic Music I, students were required to create original music as complete recordings. 

The program has always used creativity as a catalyst for learning new techniques and concepts in electronic music. Since we started the program in 2002 we have always emphasized and presented our student’s creative work. With the advancements in the field I can definitely see more creative possibilities for our students – not just as composers but also as sound designers,” said Dan Smith, coordinator of the Music Technology program.  

– Contributed by Bill Colangelo, Music Technology