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McNally Smith Panels Proposed for South by Southwest 2012

McNally Smith College of Music President Harry Chalmiers at SXSW 2011

McNally Smith College of Music President Harry Chalmiers at SXSW 2011

Though it seems like just yesterday that South by Southwest (SXSW) 2011 wrapped up, next year’s film, interactive media, and music festival is only six months away. McNally Smith President Harry Chalmiers and Director of Career Services David Lewis spoke at the 2011 conference on music, creativity, and higher education, in addition to performers representing the college, including Artist-in-Residence Dessa Darling, Jeremy Messersmith, and Charles Gehr. However, the college has larger plans for 2012, including sending student groups to intern and perform at SXSW, and numerous panels featuring McNally Smith faculty and staff.

Five panels proposed by college representatives are already on SXSW’s PanelPicker website, which takes input from popular vote to determine the sessions that will take place at the 2012 conference. The McNally Smith proposals include “Educating Yourself to Make a Life in Music” (Harry Chalmiers, Dessa Darling, Jeremy Messersmith, Joe Mabbott), “Locally Sourced” (Scott LeGere), “Opening and Expanding Markets” (Steve Cole), “Straining the Organ: Vocal Health in Today’s Music (Shon Parker), and “Why Are so Many Punks in Higher Education?” (Charles Gehr). Read descriptions of each of the panels below. To vote, follow the link to the SXSW PanelPicker website, where you can create an account in order to choose your favorites.


Most music schools could do all their teaching by candlelight — not a useful approach in the 21st century. Where is technology? Where is innovative, dynamic thinking? Not many schools pay any attention to helping students prepare for life after college, but there are a few enlightened ones that do. This panel presents leading young artists and professionals who are educators themselves discussing ways to make music education relevant, useful, and critically important.


We aim to explore the inner fabric of the current (pun intended) Minnesota music boom, looking at educational partners, news media, radio stations, entrepreneurs, retailers, and area artists as we dissect what has lead to the Twin Cities (again) becoming one of the county’s hot beds of new music culture. Is this sort of environment repeatable? What makes a “scene” greater than the sum of its parts? What consistent resources can artists from other regions draw upon which, instead of provoking competition, establish the type of coalition and collaboration needed for the formation of a cohesive music community?


How can you export your success in your market and expand it regionally and nationally? With limited resources, what is the right place to invest, promote and tour? No longer can we rely on the infrastructure of established promoters, and radio sponsored events. However, many artists and agents are finding success in creating their own shows by cultivating a new generation of promoters, enlisting local sponsorship, and engaging internet radio stations to create new markets, one region at a time.


Sugarland, Shania Twain, Adele, Steven Tyler, Simon Le Bon: All recent examples of vocalists having to cancel tours, undergo surgery or take time off because of vocal injury. This panel will discuss the rigors of professional performance and the problems of the finite instrument that is the voice. In ever-changing and demanding markets, platforms for success, organization and modes of management and the individual artist’s responsibilities, vocal health often gets left behind when the show must go on.


Is it the relationship of the DIY ethic and the perpetual learner? Or could it be the drive of young entrepreneurs who find they’ve built a strong resume through punk rock experience? Perhaps it’s the desire to create a stronger, more educated environment for the younger generations. No matter how you pose the question, more and more punks are finding themselves in academia. The scenes, the zines, the van, and the socio-political waves that built punk rock movements past and present bring us to a very curious topic. Why is it that so many punk rockers wind up in higher education?