Few careers are quite as exciting as those in music. Nearly everyone has fantasized about getting up on stage to play a killer solo or wowing an audience with their virtuosity.
But playing an instrument is just a small part of being in the music industry. In a music production program, students learn the technical aspects of making music. These programs teach students how to create, record, mix, edit, and master music.
Some people going into music production learn these skills to compose their own music, while others focus on helping other artists achieve their visions.
Although the major is relatively new, numerous schools across the country are integrating them into their programs, albeit under different names. Some call the major music production or audio engineering, while others call it performing arts technology or music technology.
Today, we are diving into ten amazing music production and audio engineering schools.
These schools feature unparalleled faculty for music production with years of experience in the field. The schools also have state-of-the-art facilities, opportunities, and collaborations with established musicians.
Ready to hit the studio and make the next hit? Then read on and find the best music production school!
10. American University (Washington, DC)
Located in the U.S. capitol, American University is one of the best school’s in the country, especially for those looking to go into music production.
Part of that success can be attributed to the school’s association with the NPR affiliate WAMU. The rest, however, comes from the school’s outstanding resources and faculty. Students working toward a bachelor’s in audio production benefit from the wisdom of teachers with decades of experience in the industry.
Department director Michael Harvey is a Certified Digidesign Pro Tools Instructor and has operated an audio production studio since 1992. Associate professor Paul A. Oehlers has written film scores that have played in film festivals around the world.
With all of this support at their disposal, students at AU go into their fields prepared to meet the needs of any audio project.
9. Indiana University Jacobs School of Music (Bloomington, IN)
At Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, students learn their trade through hands-on exposure to state-of-the-art technology. For those working towards a degree in audio engineering and sound production, that means collaborating with students in other programs within the Jacobs School.
IU puts students behind the boards in its studios and performance venues, recording, mixing, and producing productions from the media school, the department of theatre, drama, and contemporary dance, and more.
In addition to this multidisciplinary learning, students also have access to several centers to explore the artistry of their trade. In the Center for Electronic and Computer Music, students gain theoretical training in producing electronic and multimedia compositions. The Center for the History of Music Theory and Literature focuses on gathering, researching, and disseminating of documents relevant to the history of musical thought.
8. UMass Lowell (Lowell, MA)
The University of Massachusetts Lowell prides itself on the state-of-the-art technology it provides students in its sound recording technology program. With both theoretical and practical training, Umass Lowell prepares students for a range of careers in music, media, and technology.
The school achieves this goal by combining studies in physics, electrical engineering, computer science, and advanced mathematics, with formal studies in music and courses in the technology of recording.
Students get hands-on experience with professional equipment in diverse performance spaces around the campus, under the watch of the school’s experienced faculty. Teachers include program chair Dr. Gena R. Greher, who pioneered combinations of technology and music to work with emotionally disturbed students and their teachers at a New York City public school.
Assistant professor Elissa Johnson-Green’s studies in the function of music in human development led to the creation of The EcoSonic Playground Project, a music-focused, STEM+Design+sustainability program for children in underserved communities.
7. Elon University (Elon, NC)
Located near North Carolina’s vaunted research triangle area, Elon University offers a cutting-edge Bachelor of Science in music production & recording arts degree.
Bringing together the art of music performance and the craft of technological production, the degree prepares students for careers as varied as songwriting, composing music for film and video games, audio engineering and music production, post-production audio, music business and entrepreneurship, performing in commercial music genres, and more.
They advance this goal with a first-class internship program, which places students within the industry.
Students in the program gain this experience by taking advantage of the school’s excellent facilities, including recording studios and performance spaces that feature technology such as an Avid S6 48-channel digital mixing console with Dolby Atmos 7.4.1 surround sound, Avid Pro Tools HD Native, Logic Pro X DAWs, an API 1608 32-channel analog mixing console with dual-layer automation, and more.
6. California Institute of the Arts (Valencia, CA)
Cal Arts may be famous for its advances in animation and film production, but its music technology: intelligence integration design (MTIID) program deserves just as much acclaim.
Unlike the other programs on this list, Cal Arts’ MTIID curriculum puts more of an emphasis on technology. Students participate in activities such as custom software design, physical computing for human-computer interaction, electro-mechanical systems for robotic performance, and other contemporary music subjects.
Classes for students include subjects such as electrical engineering, computer science, physics, acoustics, and mathematics, as well as those that underscore the program’s core focus in electronic music composition, production, and performance.
After gaining theoretical knowledge in these classes, students gain hands-on experience by working with other departments at Cal Arts. Students create scores and design soundscapes for the animation department, build installations for the art and theater departments, and produce recordings done by various performers.
5. New York University (New York, NY)
Where most institutions have one excellent music production program, New York University is one of the few schools to offer two.
Students learn about music production and the music business through the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music (CDIRM). The CDIRM equips students with business, creative, and intellectual skills needed to become innovative entrepreneurs in the music industry. Their multidisciplinary faculty brings together engineers, research scientists, game designers, media artists, and musicians, allowing them to collaborate within the same space.
At NYU Steinhardt, students examine the technical aspects of music production. Whether they are studying for a BA or a Ph.D., students learn within the brand-new James Dolan Music Recording Studio, a 7,500 square foot multifunctional teaching, recording, and research space. The studio features a 25-seat control/classroom, including a fully automated 48 channel SSL console and the first Dangerous Music 10.2 surround installation in New York City.
4. Belmont University (Nashville, TN)
Given its location in the “Music Capital of the United States,” it should come as no surprise that Nashville’s Belmont University also has two programs for those looking to go into music production.
As part of the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business, Belmont’s audio engineering technology major provides a theoretical foundation to the practical and technological skills of audio engineering. Students learn how to operate, install, and design audio systems for concerts, music recordings, and film production.
Within the school of music, students can pursue a degree in music technology. This degree prepares students for careers in creating, composing, arranging, and performing music through technology. The program gives students access to the latest digital audio workstations and other new technologies, allowing them to put their studies into practice by collaborating with other school of music students.
3. University of Miami Frost School of Music (Coral Gables, FL)
The final school on this list with two different program options is one of the best in the country. Within the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, students can study media scoring and production or music engineering and technology.
The media scoring and production program ranks among the top 25 music schools for film and television, according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Thanks to their outstanding resources and a faculty that includes multiple Emmy-award winners, U Miami prepares students for immediate employment within the music and media industries.
Founded in 1977, the music engineering technology program at U Miami is the oldest in the world. The program boasts the newly-renovated Weeks Recording Studio, the world’s first studio to feature three full-size consoles in the control room.
2. Berklee College of Music (Boston, MA)
At Boston’s Berklee College of Music, students in the music production and engineering program get to work directly with artists, writers, musicians, and fellow engineers and producers within the school. Students develop their skills while working under a faculty of industry professionals, many of which have produced music for some of the most impressive names in the business.
Working with state-of-the-art equipment, students learn every part of their craft, from recording session set up and microphone placement to large-format console signal flow, mix-down, mastering, and professional studio protocol.
Additionally, Berklee offers several related programs for those interested in production but would like to emphasize a different element. The film scoring program has graduated several successful people, including Emile Mosseri, who earned an Oscar nomination for his score for the film Minari.
1. USC Thornton School of Music (Los Angeles, CA)
The highest-ranking school on this list is also the most selective. Each year, the music technology program at the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California accepts a very small number of students.
Those who make it into the program learn the creative, technical and business aspects of professional music.
Seeking to prepare them for the evolving nature of professional music, the program trains students in a wide range of competencies, including composing and arranging, live and studio performance, audio engineering/mixing, editing and mastering, music synthesis and programming, as well as the business aspects related to music licensing.
The program takes advantage of USC’s many other programs, allowing students to collaborate with songwriters, artists, and bands within the Thornton school, as well as video directors and video game designers in the School of Cinematic Arts, the Roski School of Art and Design, the Viterbi School of Engineering, and the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.