Monday, August 12, 2019 - 9:45am

Mercy’s nationally ranked Music Production and Recording Arts program offers students the unique opportunity to use four dedicated, state-of-the-art recording studios. These studios enable students to build their skills using the latest equipment and software and even work on personal and professional projects.

In addition to providing a recording space, The Music Production and Recording Arts program prioritizes hands-on learning, and all the professors are working professionals. Guest lecturers frequently visit, such as Marc McClusky who mixed two Weezer records, Kyle McEvoy who owns a record label called Sonder House, guitarist Lowercase Noises and local indie band American Pinup. While the program is designed for students who are interested in working in the music industry, the same skills are applicable to careers in film, television, radio, gaming, theater and other multimedia professions.

Student Kayla Anderson ’19 praised her classes for being up to date and relevant. “What sets Mercy’s program apart is that you learn how to do the real work using the best equipment,” she said. “This semester, I’ve been taking a class called Music Business II, and I’ve been really impressed because we’ve had a guest lecturer every single week. The professor assigns readings on the music business and how it works, but we spend our time in class hearing from guest lecturers — for example, a famous live sound engineer, a famous producer, an artist or songwriter and a lawyer who works with big artists. So we’re actually hearing what the business is like right now.”

Mercy ensures that students learn using the same equipment and software as professionals currently working in the music industry. “The technology changes quickly,” explained Sam Stauff ’09, music studio manager and adjunct professor. “Our goal is to stay as cutting edge as possible so that when students enter the field, they are familiar with the tools they need.” The studios are open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and are in almost constant use.

The recording studios drew students to Mercy. “Mercy’s studios are really decked out, and we’re so lucky to have access to all the great equipment,” said Basilio Perez ’19. “You learn how to use the equipment in class when you can mess up, so then when it’s time to do it for real, everyone thinks you’re a pro. The cool thing is that you can also use the studios for personal work and client work.”

Even when Justin Krass ’19 was a prospective student, he could see how much Mercy values the program, studios and students. “Everyone was really welcoming, which made me feel like I fit in. It’s not that the other schools I considered didn’t have the same equipment. It was more about how people treated Mercy’s music department in general,” said Krass. He uses the studios often. “I love engineering, and I’m also in two bands that I write music for. This week, we had to mix stuff for a couple clients. And this weekend, I’ll be working on some of my own band’s stuff because we have a new album coming out.”

Krass and his fellow students even use the recording studios to work on several personal projects. For example, he recently mixed and produced two R&B albums and tracked the entire live show for an artist who performed at Garcia’s at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.

Perez works full-time as musical director and guitarist for an artist called Kairy Marquez and even traveled to Spain, Portugal and Italy on tour with her in April. “I use a lot of stuff that I learned at Mercy in my work,” he asserted. In addition to her work on Peak Performances, Anderson is busy writing and performing her own songs. When she graduates in the fall, she plans to continue writing songs and engineer. “I’m very into podcast editing lately,” she said. “That’s booming in the audio industry right now.”

Top professional artists rely on the studios as well. Mercy has proudly hosted Grammy Award winner Darlene Love, Pulitzer Prize winner Du Yun, The Struts, LP, LOLO, The Alternate Routes, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Dispatch, Amy Shark, Middle Kids, The Record Company and Briston Maroney. “Artists, record labels and a local radio station come to Mercy to get a professional product from the staff and students,” explained Stauff. “Studios are closing down because it’s so expensive to maintain the equipment and keep everything up to date, so schools like Mercy are becoming major hubs.” For example, Anderson is one of the students who serves as an assistant engineer for The Peak radio station’s show Peak Performances. For each episode, the radio station invites an artist, such as BØRNS, Dermot Kennedy, or Leon Bridges, to give an interview and a live performance while student engineers record. Such experiences enable students to hone their skills while gaining real professional experience that they can list on their résumés.

Graduates of the Music Production and Recording Arts program have gone on to a variety of successful careers. For example, Pablo Piña ‘18 travels the world producing an electronic music act under the name Sainte Vie. Mike Towndrow ’13 is lead audio engineer, equipment manager and educator at the Jacob Burns Film Center Media Arts Lab in Pleasantville, NY. Justin Gerrish ’08 is a mixer, producer and audio engineer who runs his own recording studio for indie bands — working with the Grammy Award winner Vampire Weekend, the Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Weezer, Mark Ronson and others.

In a notoriously competitive industry, Mercy students and graduates are not only holding their own but excelling.

Mercy Recording Studio I\

Mercy Recording Studio II