Today’s digital technologies are combining business and music in powerful ways, and Professor Jonathan Santore traveled to Nashville with the goal of creating new interdisciplinary opportunities for Plymouth State University students.
Santore networked in July with music industry leaders through the NAMM ((National Association of Music Merchants) Foundation—College Music Society Fellows Program. “Yamaha, Gibson, Steinway, anyone who manufactures anything to do with musical instruments or software in the broadest sense of the term participates,” says Santore. “I’m really excited about the GenNext Fellows Program because it’s specifically designed to bring in faculty who are interested in developing curricula that feature music entrepreneurship, and it will build on the work of recently retired music professor Rik Pfenninger.”
Santore’s trip to Music City was opportune, as his business and music colleagues are rethinking PSU pedagogy to better connect their fields. New courses may precede the launch of a cutting-edge program in music technology and entrepreneurship.
“I think for music programs to survive and have successful graduates you’re going to have to offer things that are outside of what has been traditionally offered,” says Elisa Saunders ’01, director of bands at Pelham (NH) Memorial School. She notes how much digital and self-published work is done these days. “People are able to make quality music in much smaller settings, and you don’t have to move out to LA and hope to get picked up by a big label anymore.”
Saunders had to teach digitally for months during the pandemic but was able to unite students through technology, stitching together individual performances into a composite concert. The seventh and eighth grade band’s performance was featured on WMUR-TV.
As a composition/theory teacher, Santore has spent the past several years retooling to better serve the needs of what he calls the “digital-first musician.” He sees the fellowship as a logical extension of what he’s been trying to do as an artist, teacher, and administrator, creating a more holistic view of what music making in the twenty-first century is and can become.
“This is really cool for me because it ties into so many things that I’m interested in,” says Santore. “I’m a composer and have written primarily for traditional acoustic ensembles, and I’ve seen how access to digital technology has democratized access to the materials of music. The paths today’s students are walking in music creation are new and different and exciting.
“The majority of students I’m working with these days are singer songwriters and students interested in hip hop,” he adds. “It’s been a great shift in my own pedagogy. It’s interesting and freeing for me.”
“I believe I was the first student to perform a full-on hip hop track during my recital,” says Marco Giannozzi ’21. In addition to his PSU studies, Giannozzi has learned to record, mix, master, distribute, and promote his original work. “My entire dream and purpose in life is to be a touring recording artist,” he says.
Giannozzi and fellow music technology major Parish Dawe-Chadwick ’21 teamed up on Arrival, the lead track on Giannozzi’s new album. Arrival was composed by Giannozzi and features his rapping in arrangement with Plymouth State’s Chorale, and Dawe-Chadwick helped with production and mixing.
Dawe-Chadwick’s skills also include film scoring, recording, and mastering. “I was definitely focused on learning as much as I could in music tech at PSU,” he says. “Now I’m really learning the best way to digitally market and promote myself.” He is currently in the process of setting up his own firm, Mountain Made Music LLC.
“The world of music production now is very focused on you—you are your own entrepreneur,” says Dawe-Chadwick. “You have your own studio and are taking clients.” He points to Grammy-winning independent producers such as Jon Bellion, Rick Rubin, and Finneas who break seven figures annually.
The University’s concept for a new program in music technology and entrepreneurship strikes a chord. “It would be very beneficial,” says Dawe-Chadwick. “Focusing on the modern world of music would be a power move for PSU, because it could tap into a whole different market of students who want to be the best in their craft and get the edge in the world of music.”
The vision of PSU filling an unmet need inspires Santore. “Our music program is nimble enough to chart these new directions,” he says. “Ideas from the NAMM conference will help us stay on our toes.”
Arrival (composed by Marco Giannozzi ’21, featuring PSU Chorale, produced by Parish Dawe-Chadwick ’21)
Earth Song (composed by Frank Ticheli, featuring Pelham Memorial School, conducted by Elisa Saunders ’01)