CSUMB adds music technology concentration starting this fall

Lanier Sammons

Lanier Sammons, associate professor of music, will be teaching courses for the new music technology concentration. | Photo by Brent Dundore-Arias

March 29, 2024

By Mark Muckenfuss 

Cal State Monterey Bay is reintroducing a concentration to its music major beginning this fall. 

Music technology will utilize the sound equipment and studio space in the Music Hall, along with the expertise of Lanier Sammons, to teach students about recording, mixing and editing sound. The concentration hasn’t been offered since the 2018–19 school year, and the new curriculum is substantially different than what was offered then.

Sammons, an associate professor, has been with CSUMB for 11 years. During that time, he’s been teaching students how to mic a room, operate a mixing board and produce a finished recording. Until now, however, those courses did not constitute a formal concentration that would be a part of their bachelor’s degrees.

I think part of what we’re hoping the concentration does is put an ‘open for business’ light on what we do,” Lanier said. “There are some other CSUs that do this type of work, but it’s pretty rare. I’m optimistic it will spark growth in the number of music majors.”

Music professor Jeffrey Jones said the move solidifies what the music program has already been providing. He said third-party data analytics have shown that CSUMB is Central California’s largest provider of graduates who go on to fill music industry jobs in audio engineering. 

“We are pleased to consolidate our strength in this area and further increase opportunities for our students,” Jones said. “The music program has been working hard to build a curriculum that is informed by, and aligned with, student interest and industry need. It has taken time, but the results are worth it.”

Sammons not only has plenty of background as a teacher, he also brings in real-world experience, working as an engineer and composer outside of CSUMB. His writing is most often in the genre of electronic classical and experimental new music for performance groups as well as feature films. 

He said adding the concentration is a way of taking advantage of resources that are already available.

“The studio really is well stocked with professional quality equipment,” he said, calling it a reflection of how important the studio and music hall are to the program. “It’s never felt like the folks here don’t see the value in this. We’ve always had some wonderful support.”

Adding the new concentration also means a broadening of the offerings.

“Designing the concentration was a chance to revisit the curricula,” Sammons said. “There are a few new classes. We will have a class in live sound, another in MIDI and digital processing, and sound and music for TV, film and games.”

He said he hopes formalizing the concentration will help expand the music program.

“We hope it makes it easier for students to find us,” he said. And, when they do, “I’m excited to reach that stage for further growth.”