For almost 70 years, the School of Music at Houghton College has built a foundation of music training upon traditional musical classics; orchestral and choral music that is focused on classic or historically relevant Christian religious music studies. Over the past century, this platform of training has served the students and the constituencies of Houghton very well and has led many alumni to exceptional careers in all areas of music, literally around the globe.
“We have had great success as a School of Music for generations,” stated Stephen W. Plate, dean of the school of music. “Things are changing in the marketplace and it is important that we continue to serve our known constituencies and those that we will serve in the future. A lot of things are changing in the field of music that have nothing to do with genre or style. The way we make music, capture music, consume music, record and produce music have all gone through a transformation, so Houghton and the Greatbatch School of Music will adapt to address these changes in the marketplace.”
A paradigm shift in the musical culture has been occurring, both in the application of desired studies such as contemporary worship music, and the emerging, ever growing mainstream music scene, along with the rapidly growing job markets in commercial music production for applications such as video games, film, and sonic design.
In response to this shift, Houghton is continuing to retain the historical relevance for which it is known by keeping and refining classical musical offerings while also building a progressive commercial music industry program, which focuses on new recording and production technologies. This will create a well-rounded learning environment to engage the music student of the 21st century while enhancing the experience of the more traditional music student.
To meet the changing market paradigms, the college has recently designed and implemented a music industry minor and has developed a new Bachelor of Science program in music industry, pending approval from the National Association of Schools of Music and the State of New York.
Recent articles from the labor department indicate that two areas are growing rapidly within the music field: music education and commercial music composition. Many of these positions require the job candidate to have music technology expertise. The new courses and programs being developed at Houghton will train students in their respective fields and give them the appropriate skill sets that employers seek when filling positions within the commercial music market.
Kevin Jackson, director of technical arts at Houghton, commented, “If you look at the statistics for job market growth in the audio engineering field, the statistics tell that it is growing above average. What those statistics do not take into account is that church technical arts and worship arts positions are growing at a rapid rate of 60 percent a year.”
The current music industry minor offers courses such as Intro to Music Business, Recoding and Sound Technique, Pro Tools I & II, among others.
“The goal of coming up with the courses we are offering in commercial music is to equip Houghton’s students with the required skill sets that will make them successful in their respective fields when they graduate,” said Jackson.
“The addition of a program in commercial music further strengthens Houghton’s already established reputation as an excellent place to prepare for a career in music,” commented Ryan Spear, associate director of admission. “Students who find themselves most passionate about approaching music from the perspective of production, recording, light design and every other technical aspect will find the course offerings at Houghton to be an excellent fit for them. Few, if any, other institutions, let alone Christian liberal arts colleges, in the northeast offer any kind of program that is as comprehensive and distinctive as Houghton’s.”
The new commercial music program will add depth and breadth to the overall scope of the Greatbatch School of Music.
Plate commented, "The music industry is a growing and progressive field of study, and these are where new jobs of today can be found. Our [Houghton’s] course of study will prepare 21st century music students for productive lives in the musical and technical arts, both traditional and commercial.”