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Music Engineering student works in a lab Music Engineering student works in a lab
Music Engineering lab at the FROST School of Music Music Engineering lab at the FROST School of Music

Music Engineering School

The Frost School of Music's Music Engineering Technology program is the first program of its kind, developed in 1977, after several years of research and discussions with audio technology companies and recording studios across the country. The program offers both undergraduate Bachelor of Science and graduate Master of Science degrees. The program's main facility is the newly renovated Weeks Recording Studio. The studio is the first in the world to house three full size consoles in the control room.


EVENTS

A recording studio with two chairs and a mixing console, with a rack of equipment in the background

L. Austin Weeks Center for Recording and Performance

One of the most advanced academic and professional recording studios in the world, is home to the Music Engineering Technology (MuE) program at the Frost School of Music. It underwent a million-dollar overhaul recently, making it the first of its kind to house three full-size integrated mixing consoles with digital and analog capabilities. The new control room boasts a 24-channelAvid S6 controller; a 32-channel all-analog API 1608 with Automation; and an SSL 948 Delta, a digitally controlled analog console.

A recording studio with two chairs and a mixing console, with a rack of equipment in the background
Teacher and student looking over a mixing console

What is Music Engineering?

Before modern technologies came into existence, people enjoyed music by listening to it live or creating it themselves. These days, most of us listen to digitally recorded music regularly and enjoy live performance as a periodic treat. Few musicians have the required equipment and technical knowledge to professionally record an album, so who records, mixes, edits, and manages them? The answer is music engineers.

Music engineers oversee the technological aspects of recorded music and sound for professionally-recorded music, television, and other industries. If music is the raw material and technologies are the tools, then music engineers are the builders. They make sure that recordings that sound good to listeners. Whether we know it or not, most of us benefit from the work of music engineers every day.

Teacher and student looking over a mixing console
Music Engineering sitting at a mixing console

What Does A Music Engineer Do?

Music engineers edit and manipulate sound. If you’ve ever recorded live music, you may be familiar with the perils of one instrument sounding way louder than the others. There may be an unintended buzz, the notes may blur together, or the percussion may overpower everything. A music engineer uses a variety of digital tools to make sure that the performers are achieving their ideal sound.

Many sound engineers are employed by recording studios and they work to support musicians as they record tracks. Music engineers can be contracted on a per-project basis or work full-time. Some organize their projects through contracts while others run their services out of their own studios. The possibilities are endless, as any professional recording was likely produced with the help of a music engineer.

Music Engineering sitting at a mixing console
Students at the University of Miami Student Center

What Education Do I Need to Pursue to Become a Music Engineer?

It’s difficult to get hands-on experience as a music engineer without the right connections. One of the best ways to gain experience is to attend a school like the highly acclaimed Frost School of Music. Successful music engineers need to be equipped with technological, entrepreneurial, musical, and interpersonal skills. The Frost School trains you with the skills you need to succeed. Though much has changed in recent decades in the recording industry, it’s a great time to become a music engineer. In 2015, the average salary for a music engineer was over $50,000 a year. Many jobs are available for music engineers. It’s a growing field. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, this field will enjoy industry growth of 7% between 2014 and 2024.

Students at the University of Miami Student Center
Frost School of Music building

What are the Components of a Music Engineering Program?

There are a few key components of a music engineering program. To become a music engineer, you will need to understand music. You will choose to focus in a single instrument or in vocal performance, honing your skills through practice, lessons, ensembles, and mentorship. This applied knowledge allows you to experience what musicians go through as they prepare to record.

Music engineers also use a variety of highly specialized technologies to do their jobs. Though the specific technologies change over time, the basic principles are the same. Technical knowledge means learning how to use specific tools, but also learning to “have an ear” no matter what technologies you use in the future. Nothing can replace time in the studio to help you learn what you need to know.

Frost School of Music building
Music Engineering student working in the lab

Music Engineering and Interpersonal Skills

One of the most valuable elements of attending school is the opportunity for mentorship. Working closely with faculty members will sharpen your skills and give you the real-world connections you need to get a foot in the door. It’s important that your school’s faculty get to know your personal talents and interests.

Internships, externships, service-learning, lab work, and other interpersonal experience is also invaluable. Attending a music school means that you will have the connections you need to apply your music engineering skills to real projects, even before you graduate. The Frost School of Music gives engineering students hands-on experience at the school’s Weeks Recording Studio, which is one of the most advanced academic and professional recording studios in the world.

Music Engineering student working in the lab
A fountain on campus at the University of Miami

5 Reasons to Become a Music Engineer

  1. Range of Opportunities: Whether you intend to work in music, film, television, or a private recording studio, a music engineering degree gives you the ability to pursue a wide range of opportunities.
  2. Job Security: Most musicians are not familiar with the ins and outs of sound engineering. With so many musicians out there and far fewer engineers, plenty of work is available.
  3. Collaboration: Because you are working with performers, music engineering is an inherently collaborative opportunity.
  4. Technical and Transferable Skills: With technical skills and transferable knowledge, sound engineering allows you to combine highly specialized knowledge with the big picture.
  5. Combine Music and Technology: Music engineering can combine your love for computers and technology with your devotion to music.
A fountain on campus at the University of Miami
Palm trees at the University of Miami Coral Gables Campus

5 More Reasons to Become a Music Engineer

  1. Use Your Creativity. As a music engineer, you will be using your vision to help performers achieve their goals.
  2. Specialize in the Area of Your Choice. Music engineering is a field where you can become an expert in the niche of your choice.
  3. Behind-the-Scenes View into the Recording Industry. A career in music engineering allows you to work closely with musicians and get a behind-the-scenes view.
  4. Turn Abstract Visions into Reality. Few things are more satisfying than turning an abstraction into reality. Music engineering allows you to transform an idea into a real, polished product.
  5. Employability in Major Cities. Miami is a prime market for music engineering jobs. Music engineering can give you the employable skills to live in one of the most exciting cities in the country.
Palm trees at the University of Miami Coral Gables Campus
Exterior of the Student Center at the University of Miami

How Do I Find the Right Music Engineering Program for Me?

Music engineering is a flourishing, exciting field that involves recording, editing, and manipulating sound. Attending a school of music is one of the best ways to put you on the fast track to achieving your music engineering goals, but it’s important to select the right school. When selecting a music engineering school, there are a few things to consider. Who are their alumni? What is their job placement rate? Do they have connections to professionals in the industry? The Frost School of Music was one of the first universities to offer a four-year degree in music engineering. There are no disciplinary barriers at the Frost School, so you can tailor your degree to suit your personal interests in music engineering.

Exterior of the Student Center at the University of Miami