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Augustana’s School of Music Creates Multimedia Entrepreneurs Through Innovative Programs and Technology

When Augustana University student Gilbert DeWitte ‘24 heard about the new Multimedia Entrepreneurship Program within the Augustana School of Music, he knew it was the one for him.

“I chose Augustana not only because they offer a major such as multimedia entrepreneurship that fits what I’m looking for in a career path, but I’ve come to love the faculty and people here throughout my many years of coming to Augie for music lessons and other events,” DeWitte said.

As a Sioux Falls, South Dakota, native, DeWitte had long been privy to AU’s reputation for offering an experience that is like no other in the Midwest.

The School of Music, which has been accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music since 1972, is well known for its long tradition of excellence in music. It offers performance experiences that include international and regional touring, performances in the renowned Mary W. Sommervold Hall of the Washington Pavilion and the opportunity to perform and learn from nationally-known visiting artists.

Music may be timeless, but the School of Music recognizes that musicians have to be in tune with the demands and spirit of today’s digital era — which is where the multimedia entrepreneurship major comes in.

The interdisciplinary program is a partnership with the Berklee College of Music and Avid Technology (as a Learning Partner), and is made possible by the Midco Media Campus and Production Center. The program nurtures today’s musicians into tomorrow’s creative and independent entrepreneurs. They are the future artists with the ability to make their own commercials — the ones who can do everything on their own from narration, video shooting and music creation to copyright licensing.

“Higher education can do so much more for musicians because right now, most universities only prepare them to teach or maybe perform for the rest of their lives, and realistically, that’s only one piece of the pie,” Dr. Peter Folliard, dean of the School of Music, said. “The skills that are needed to exist and survive as a musician, performer or creative artist in the 21st century include performance, teaching, composition, as well as video and audio production.”

Augustana University

Source: Augustana University

That is why students will study three main areas within the School of Music’s curriculum: foundational education in music, an entrepreneurship minor taught by AU’s business department and certificate programs in Avid Pro Tools, Media Composer and Sibelius. Students are also required to complete an internship and other electives.

For media users and organizations — in film, television and music — wanting to make more impactful stories, Avid Technology has a range of industry-recognized innovative tools, platforms and solutions utilizing powerful technology. Students will be able to participate and become certified, allowing them to navigate and produce a wide range of media, including videos and podcasts, with more ease and confidence.

Avid’s Pro Tools provides different audio-production software, hardware and controls to help elevate the acoustics of films, videos and television programs. With a variety of plug-ins, users can record, produce, edit, as well as mix and master their productions to sound exactly the way they want it to sound.

Media Composer is another useful tool, complete with smarter video-editing software like the Avid Media Engine. Users can edit and play back large source files while automated tools do the time-consuming background work. The industry-leading Avid NEXIS shared-storage platform also makes remote collaboration and editing on demand possible.

Avid’s music notation tool, Sibelius, allows users to compose, arrange and write music with up to 16 instruments on many media devices, including iPads, desktop computers and mobile devices. They can share, publish and even make scores interactive.

Pairing these tools with access to top-grade facilities and the latest technology, it is no surprise that DeWitte’s most memorable experience was his recording of the Augustana Christmas Vespers 2020 Concert.

“Every aspect of the process, from playing in the concert to figuring out how to record large ensembles while in the middle of a pandemic, was really incredible,” DeWitte said.

DeWitte credits his positive entrepreneurial transformation to Augustana’s hands-on learning approach and support from Folliard and other faculty members.

“As I strive to become a music producer, I find myself being pushed by the Augustana community to aim and do more with myself here, both academically and musically,” said DeWitte.

Along with his multimedia entrepreneurship studies, DeWitte discovered the many social opportunities the School of Music offers. He is involved in many musical groups — his favorite of which is the Augustana Orchestra because he gets to play beautiful music like all of Beethoven’s symphonies. DeWitte is also part of Augustana’s Volleyball Club and takes part in the Welcome Week Committee.

DeWitte said the School of Music has enriched him in more ways than he thought possible, and hopes it can do the same for other students.

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