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McNally Smith College of Music Announces New Bachelor of Science in Music Degree (Music Producer)

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On January 14, 2008, McNally Smith College of Music Dean of Academic Affairs, Cliff Wittstruck, Dean of Music Industries André Fischer and Chair of Technology Bryan Forrester announced the establishment of the new Bachelor of Science in Music (Music Producer) degree during a presentation honoring music industry giant Al Schmitt. During an eventful ceremony held at the college’s St. Paul campus, Mr. Schmitt was interviewed and also fielded questions from McNally Smith students and guests about his fifty year career as an engineer and producer for a who’s-who of music’s biggest names. Following his talk, Mr. Schmitt was awarded the first Honorary Bachelor Degree of Science in Music from McNally Smith. College President, Harry Chalmiers, Deans Wittstruck and Fischer, and Technology Chair Forrester presented the degree.

“How incredibly appropriate to announce our new Bachelor of Science in Music degree on the same day we bestow an Honorary Bachelor Degree on the legendary Al Schmitt,” said President Harry Chalmiers. “Our new degree program is designed to provide graduates with all of the tools necessary for a successful career as a music producer, and Al is an inspirational figure who has reached the pinnacle of the field.”

Over the course of his illustrious career, Al Schmitt’s numerous accolades include nineteen GRAMMY® Awards for engineering and production. Growing up in New York City, Schmitt would take the subway to hang out at his uncle’s recording studio and soak up recording techniques. By age 19 he was working with the legendary Tom Dowd at Apex Studios. Dating back to the 1950s, Schmitt has engineered or produced recordings for greats like Sam Cooke, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jefferson Airplane, Jackson Browne, Neil Young, Toto and many more. Counted among his GRAMMY awards are multiple hit recordings for Henry Mancini, George Benson, Steely Dan, Natalie Cole, Diana Krall, Quincy Jones, Norah Jones and Ray Charles. Schmitt has engineered, produced and mixed over 150 gold and platinum albums during his career, and he’s still going strong. In 1997, Schmitt was inducted into the TEC (Technical Excellence & Creativity Awards) Hall of Fame.

McNally Smith’s newly announced Bachelor of Science in Music (Music Producer) degree program is designed to prepare students for the rigorous demands of becoming a music producer. In today’s climate, the best music producers are well-rounded professionals who are proficient in technology, business, musicianship and general education. In addition to study in each of these areas, all degree candidates will oversee an album-recording project from start to finish, graduating with real-life experience as a music producer.  McNally Smith, which was founded in 1985, also offers three additional Bachelor degrees as well as Associates degrees and diploma courses. The new degree, which has received the approval of the National Association of Schools of Music and the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, is the first Bachelor of Science degree offered by the college.

“Our new Bachelor of Science in Music degree represents a major milestone in raising the profile and prestige of McNally Smith,” said noted record producer and Dean, André Fischer.

Far Above: Dean André Fischer and Al Schmitt talk during the Master Series event.

Above: Al Schmitt holds his honorary Bachelors of Science in Music (Music Producer) degree from McNally Smith College of Music.

: Technology Chair Bryan Forrester, President Harry Chalmiers, Al Schmitt, Dean André Fischer, and Dean Cliff Wittstruck.
Photo: Al Schmitt with 3rd and 4th semester students in Studio 2.
Photo: Al Schmitt teaching students in Studio 2.

Photos by Emma Freeman Photography