"We have a lot of graduates that are not only artists but people who work in the Christian music industry," said Dr. Rebecca Chappell, associate professor of music at AU. "They don't just learn about Christian music here. They learn about the music business." Anderson University has become the hub for attracting those interested in pursuing a career in Christian music.
With the options available, it's obvious to see why. Music degrees at AU introduce students to many facets of the music industry including: Music education, church performance, songwriting, producing, the recording industry and its techniques, publishing, legal aspects of the music industry, product industry and the creative artist side of producing.
And of course, music business degrees.
Music business degrees at AU have been available since the mid-'70s.
"We were one of the first music business programs in the country," Chappell said. "We usually have about 100 music majors with about 40 to 45 that are music business majors."
Part of the pull toward music business degrees is the involvement outside of AU with the recording industry.
"The degree has a lot of business courses attached to it, music business courses," Chappell said. "They explore how to collect money, have live guest speakers, take a trip to Nashville in spring to see big recording and independent labels and we went to the Dove Awards last year. We went to a party afterwards for Gotee Records. The students have opportunities within class assignments to interview people in the industry."
Students are required to complete an internship before graduating. Most either go to Nashville or just drive over to Alexandria and intern at Gaither Studios. Students also have performance requirements from studying instrument or voice and lessons to perform at recitals and ensembles.
"Music is one of largest programs on the campus," said Dr. Jeffrey Wright, dean of the college of the arts. "It is known as a place with high performance standards. Our ensembles are well-respected and have played at major venues like Carnegie Hall and Riverside Church in New York."
Another benefit outside of class is the chance to use AU's recording studio to produce their own projects with assistance from Dr. Mark Murray, who is in charge of the technological end of the music business major. Some students have even gotten record deals after producing from AU's studio.
But AU's not stopping there. A new venue of classes may soon be opening up for music majors.
"We've done a proposal to start our own record label for the music industry," Chappell said. "We're trying to get a Lilly grant. Students would actually do recordings for the specialized music business class."
Chappell said funding for the project is not definite, but the university is hoping to be able to start the classes as early as next year.
STACEY M. LANE GROSH is a staff reporter for the Anderson Herald-Bulletin.