McNally Smith College of Music

Discover your life in music

Earn Your Diploma or Minor in Live Sound

Live Sound

The intensive Live Sound program is designed to equip you with the necessary skills and training to get you working in the fast-paced live sound industry in as little as 12 months. You’ll receive individualized instruction from expert faculty who will teach you how to mix sound for live concerts, operate lighting and PA systems, and maintain audio equipment for a variety of club, theater, and stage venues. By honing your craft on state-of-the-art analog and digital mixing consoles, you’ll be prepared to excel in any live audio environment.

With a solid technical foundation combined with practical engineering experience, you’ll have the skills and knowledge to succeed in a variety of career paths.

Ready For The Real World

As a Live Sound major you’ll receive a hands-on education that prepares you for the real world. You’ll get professional experience working in our three on-campus performance venues, and mixing front-of-house for local concerts and events with bands and ensembles of all styles and sizes. You’ll learn the fundamentals of frequency management, microphone placement, how to get great tones for every kind of instrument and how to balance each element to create the perfect live mix. You’ll also learn music business essentials in tour management, booking and promotions — all skills that will make you marketable to potential clients.

You’ll get a head start on your music career by building your professional network while you’re still in school. With access to guest artists, internships and live sound opportunities in the thriving Twin Cities music, theater and arts scene, you’ll be connected to the industry before you graduate.

Teaching For Tomorrow

To succeed as an audio professional, you need a well-rounded education that prepares you for the dynamic future of music. That’s why our Live Sound degree program focuses on developing your creativity while giving you the necessary technology skills to adapt and compete in the industry. You’ll also graduate equipped with the entrepreneurial concepts and business savvy you’ll need to reach your goals and establish your career.

With a comprehensive education that blends artistry, technology and entrepreneurship, you’ll be ready to make and sustain a life in music.

Your Career Path

Graduates of the Live Sound program are prepared for a variety of career options, including:

  • Front-Of-House Engineer
  • Monitor Engineer
  • Acoustician/Sound System Designer
  • Broadcast Engineer
  • Tour Manager
  • Lighting Technician

 Studios & Facilities

Our campus features 3 performance venues, 6 technology labs, and 11 recording studios where students learn to record, edit and mix music and audio.

Student Life

There’s a lot to explore outside of class, including student organizations, free concerts, music ensembles, and the diverse music and art scene of Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Auditorium hosts student recitals, guest artist concerts and music industry seminars year round. MIDI Lab. Students learn to write and produce music using hardware and software, including Logic Pro. Pro Tools Lab. Students learn editing, mixing and production techniques using the latest software. One of the multipurpose classrooms used for rehearsing bands, teaching music theory and songwriting. The Sound Bite Café features an intimate performance setting for small ensembles, guest artists and workshops. The 48-input SSL Duality console in Studio 1, with a view into the main performance area. Studio 1. 48-input SSL Duality hybrid analog-digital console; Barefoot MicroMain 27 monitors. Studio 4 features a Digidesign ICON D-Command Work surface and 5.1 surround mixing system. Studio 5. Trident 80B analog console; Otari MTR-90 24-track analog recorder; Pro Tools HD2 system. Studio 10 main performance area. Studio 10 features three racks of outboard mic preamplifiers, compressors, equalizers, and limiters.
Many artists have launched their careers at First Avenue, Minnesota’s quintessential music venue. The Theater Ensemble performs rock musical RENT at the History Theatre located on campus. At The Sessions master class, industry pros like Dom Famularo help artists sharpen their business skills. EDM artist/producer Francis Preve demonstrates remix techniques using Ableton Live during a master class. The X-Tet Ensemble studies traditional cajón technique in Lima, Peru during their South American tour. Concertgoers get the full Flaming Lips experience at River’s Edge Music Festival, downtown St. Paul. The NOLA Ensemble performs authentic New Orleans-style jazz at an Open House event. The Contemporary Vocal Ensemble performs onstage in McNally Smith’s Auditorium. Music Business students plan, promote and execute a SXSW day party in Austin, TX. Students pause for a photo-op while guiding campus tours at Open House. Taking a break during the McNally Smith kickball tournament at nearby Harriet Island, St. Paul.

FacultyView All Faculty >>

Peter Greenlund

Peter Greenlund has been in the live production industry for over 30 years, living and traveling on tour buses across the world with the likes of Prince, the Commodores, Phil Collins, Wayne Newton, Willie Nelson just to name a few. Though his specialty is in live sound engineering, he is proficient in rigging, set design, sound system design and installation, lighting, production and stage managing, and band technician duties.

Aside from the touring industry Greenlund has also held house positions as the Media Director of Wooddale Church, Lead Technician for the Minneapolis Convention Center, and Production Manager/Lead Engineer at The Carlton Celebrity Theater. When not teaching he still keeps an active freelance career that takes him to venues worldwide. Greenlund feels it’s his calling to share his experiences with his students, taking many on as interns for local shows even some that require light travel.

Scott Rivard

Scott Rivard was the longtime Technical Director, Mixer and Audio Producer for the live broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion — carried by 540 radio stations and heard by over 4 million listeners each week. He has also participated in television production at Northwest Teleproductions. He was an owner and designer of 74th Street recording studio and before that, Sound 80, Inc.

Rivard made some of the first multi-track digital recordings including: Herb Pilhofer’s Spaces, Willie And The Bees’ Out Of The Woods and Leo Kottke’s Guitar Music. He also recorded Kottke’s legendary 6- and 12-String Guitar album. Rivard has designed consoles for theater, a high-definition power amp, and a 32-channel quad mixing console, which was one of the first in the world to use voltage-controlled amplifier grouping. He is also is a voting member of The National Academy Of Recording Arts And Sciences (Grammys) and a full member of The Audio Engineering Society.


$12,870 per semester for full-time attendance (13-17 credits)

  • Diploma: 45 credits

$990 per credit for part-time attendance More info >>

Financial Aid

On average, more than $1 million in College-funded aid is awarded annually in the form of merit-based scholarships and need-based grants. More than 85% of our students receive financial assistance to help cover their educational costs.

Click here to learn about the many resources available to help pay for college.

Gainful Employment Statistics


McNally Smith College of Music is institutionally and programmatically accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) and is registered with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education. More info >>

Sound Reinforcement I

Through a combination of lecture and hands-on exercises, students gain a theoretical and practical understanding of live sound reinforcement. Emphasis is placed on both indoor and outdoor live sound reinforcement applications. Sound system components are examined in detail.

Sound System Design and Installation

This course provides in-depth analysis of the design, bidding and installation of permanent sound systems. Students explore how to evaluate a facility’s needs, budget concerns, and scheduling issues while learning how to design a sound system and formulate a professional bid to present to a client. System wiring and final installation are also discussed.

Introduction to Stage Lighting

This course is an introduction to stage lighting and lighting systems for musical events and venues. Students gain an understanding of typical lighting systems for a variety of stage size applications. Emphasis is placed on lighting instrument types, dimmer packs, focusing techniques, light filtering, color matching and blending. Special effects, console design and operation and conventional lighting instrument repair and maintenance are also examined.