Carnegie Mellon University
September 06, 2019

Modern Musicking Show a Big Hit with Students

CMU's School of Music episodes featured performances, music history, careers

By Heidi Opdyke

Pam Wigley
  • College of Fine Arts
  • 412-268-1047
Dan Fernandez
  • School of Music
  • 412-268-4921

Carnegie Mellon University's Lance LaDuke has struck a chord with students when it comes to a modern music education.

LaDuke's title is as broad as the skills he helps his students develop. As an assistant teaching professor in euphonium & music business, and first-year adviser and coordinator of special and creative projects in the School of Music, every student in the school sees him at some point. Many have the same request.

"An ever-growing number of students were approaching me to learn how to set up a YouTube channel, and work on social media," LaDuke said. "So, I said 'let's combine forces and make a thing that's outward facing.'"

That thing is the Modern Musicking Show and its eponymous complementary center. This past year, students created eight episodes that showcased members of the School of Music performing, discussing instruments, music history and careers. The content was aimed at high school students as a recruiting tool and some of the episodes include guides for high school music teachers.

A second season of the show begins this fall. LaDuke has started recruiting students to produce, edit and organize the next wave of episodes.

"Students can choose their own adventure for how involved they want to be," LaDuke said. "In some cases, those efforts can be formalized into individual independent studies with deliverables, but in others it's students doing it for the love of the work."

Sophomore Noah Lauziere joined the show his freshman year. He worked on tasks such as setting up cameras, microphones and lights, and monitored audio.

"I enjoy being the man behind the curtain, not the face of the brand," said Lauziere, a euphonium performance major. "I find the show to be very complementary to my CMU education. I am being trained as a classical musician, but I have interests in other genres and aspire to maybe arrange and record covers, produce original music or even educational content. So, the show gives me an example of educational content I may emulate in format and structure, and gives me the opportunity to learn how to record and edit."

Gino Mollica, an executive producer for the Modern Musicking Show, helps recruit students to be on the show and coordinates production and post-production work.

"I think this is something that can continue to grow," said Mollica, a senior who is also part of the accelerated Master of Arts Management program. "It helps make education more accessible. Some high school students might not have the means or the schools might not have the resources to prepare them for college auditions, but when we put these videos out there, we might give someone a new idea about history, or the music industry and arts in general. And you're getting personal anecdotes and expectations of college from other students, not just faculty and staff."

LaDuke said it has never been easier to reach audiences.

"This is the best time to be an artist. Technology is disruptive," LaDuke added. "Two things can happen: People are disrupted ... they're stressed and so they look to artists to help them process the disruption. And as the disruption happens, there are more opportunities for people who are disrupted to reinvent themselves."

School of Music Head Denis Colwell said CMU creates an environment in which musicians can be part of an innovative fine arts community immersed in a top research university. Students can study in a variety of traditional programs in performance areas, and music & technology, or have interdisciplinary experiences through the BXA intercollege degree program.

"We like to say we train in a conservatory built into the university education," Colwell said. "We're embedded in this amazing place called Carnegie Mellon. So, we ask students to have an open mind and take advantage of everything CMU has to offer."

Colwell said careers for musicians have evolved.

"In the past, there were only a few things you could do. You could teach privately, teach in a school, or, if you were good enough, you could perform," Colwell said. "We ask students to start thinking about their long-term career goals from day 1. There are infinite possibilities for them to utilize their musical and artistic skills and invent their own careers."

The Modern Musicking Show is just one of the ways the School of Music is involving students in hands-on, experience-rich activities. The CMU Music Entrepreneurship Program provides classes to help students hone their business, marketing and communications. But, Colwell said, the show is something a special.

"It's an insight into the School of Music but also the brain of Lance LaDuke," Colwell said. "It's lighthearted, like him, and I applaud the effort."

Recent graduate Abby Lannan, who received her master's degree in euphonium performance in May, worked on the Modern Musicking Show. LaDuke charged her with creating a segment that promoted music history in a fun way.

With just a minute to share information, Lannan learned to be concise and on point with her information. The experience helped influence her social media content on her personal Twitter and Instagram pages, and the work has paid off. A music video she posted on Twitter with special effects went viral and has been viewed more than 1 million times this summer.

"I threw that together in an hour or two," Lannan said. "I have no idea how that happened."

The Complete First Season