Students in the Commercial & Electronic Music Concentration may pursue interests in recording arts, jazz studies, MIDI/synthesis or music for film and video. Recording arts students work in a state-of-the-art sound recording studio in the Center for Applied Technology.
Faculty members are committed to teaching the individual student, whether in lessons or in larger courses. Because developing skills in music performance involves one-on-one teaching, significant mentoring relationships often develop. Students who graduate with the B.M. degree are working in Nashville in the music business, performing as freelance musicians, working for a music company in their own home towns, and pursuing professional study in graduate school.
Commercial voice has been recently added as an applied area available to students in the Commercial and Electronic Music program. Students in the program can now study pop, jazz and country vocal styles as a part of their applied major in voice.
Admission to the program includes the prerequisite of satisfactory sophomore exam after 4 semesters of foundational voice foundation study then a minimum of 2 semesters of commercial study. C&EM voice students would study a variety of commercial vocal styles and repertory, background harmony singing, vocal recording techniques and other elements of commercial voice.
Catamount Singers and Electric Soul serves as a major ensemble in the School of Music and provides performance opportunities for commercial voice students. The group performs on campus and tours annually to public schools in our region.
Set drumming is a new area for performers enrolled in the C&EM program. It will aid in fulfilling SOM ensemble needs for drum set and ethnic percussion players (5 or 6 students). It provides experience in an area that enhances the commercial percussion skills of our students. The course of study includes 4 semesters of traditional orchestral percussion (with Adam Groh) and then a minimum of 2 semesters of drum set and ethnic percussion study with C&EM faculty percussionists. A successful sophomore exam is prerequisite. Lessons and equipment are available in the recording studio and the Belk labs. The students are exposed to various musical styles as well as recording and session drumming techniques.
MIDI / Synthesis is another new applied area available students. Students focusing on this will learn to perform with the latest technology, including Ableton Live, analog synthesizers, and launchpads. MIDI / Synthesis students get to perform as part of the Music Technology Ensemble, where they are encouraged to write their own music. The Tech Ensemble also performs music with unique input devices like motion sensors and Nintendo controllers. Outside of performance, those focusing on MIDI / Synthesis can gain access to high-end sample libraries and plug-ins, such as Serum and suites from Native Instruments. All of these tools are used in WCU's Recording Studio in the Center for Applied Technology (CAT Center).
The Commercial & Electronic Music program requires eight semesters of individual lessons in a performance area and six semesters of major ensembles, along with courses in performance skills, music theory and history. An optional internship program provides an opportunity to earn college credit while working in a professional commercial music setting.
To be admitted to any music degree program, you must perform a live audition before a panel of music faculty. Auditions are typically held in February, but an audition may also be done by appointment throughout the year.
Students interested in a music scholarship must 1) apply for scholarships through the university's regular financial aid processes and 2) audition by the last scheduled School-wide audition day to receive full consideration for an award.
Commercial and electronic music students must earn and maintain a 2.5 grade-point average in all of their college work for full admission.
The music studio faculty members are all active teachers, performers producers and composers and bring extensive experience in various aspects of the music business. Damon Sink is a composer and producer, also working in the areas of recording and post production. Chris Beyt is an active jazz guitarist, while Pavel Wlosok is a noted jazz performer in the United States and Europe. Jim Elenteny is the recording studio engineer and also teaches classes in recording arts and a studio practicum. Jon Henson works in areas of recording arts, field audio production as well as live sound reinforcement.