Supporting Real-World Production Experience at Belmont University

Nashville is home to some of music’s best and brightest minds. Not coincidentally, it’s also home to the Mike Curb College of Entertainment and Music Business (CEMB) at Belmont University, the only AACSB International accredited Music Business program in the world.

Drawing some of the most talented up and coming artists from all over the country,Belmont University offers a unique way of highlighting all facets of the music industry through its Belmont Showcase Series. The concert series takes place five times a year at Curb Event Center and draws a huge crowd—about 2,500 people.

And maybe even more impressive? These shows are completely run by students. That means an army of about 150 Belmont University students are managing all facets of production, everything from scheduling the performers to rigging the lights and running the audio.

The first showcase of 2016, spotlighting country music, took place Saturday night, February 13. Nashville-based Morris, a full service production and integration company, once again provided crew and equipment, offering students a chance to put their hands on real-world gear in an actual arena concert environment.

From Clay Paky lights to Sennheiser wireless microphones and a Yamaha PM5D-RH digital mixing console, these students were working with equipment that is currently being used in the professional production world.

Along with providing lighting and sound equipment, a Morris team member met with the students prior to load-in in order to share his experience and knowledge, while helping them prep the technical details of the show.

“We’ve been involved in the Belmont Showcase Series since 2012, and I’m consistently impressed by the approach Belmont University has taken to provide its students with an outlet through which they can explore their interests and perfect their craft,” said Morris President David Haskell. “It’s a remarkable opportunity for students interested in live production to experience it in such a raw manner and also for us to see the immense talent that’s emerging from schools like Belmont.”

Aside from running the five arena showcases, the CEMB also requires students to plan, organize and run one outdoor festival-style concert and four writers’ nights—all of which work to offer students an unparalleled level of experience in team leadership, stage design, lighting design, production management, live sound, and more.

“The 150 students we work with are all are assigned to a team based on their interests or studies,” said David Graham, an Account Manager for Morris. “For instance, some kids might be interested in audio, while others want to explore the concept of lighting and stage design. There are so many facets to this line of work, and this is the perfect way for students to see what each individual component consists of.”

Belmont University and Morris see the partnership as a win-win—the learning lab gives students real-world experience and gives them exposure to a local company that is also hoping to recruit the best and brightest to its team.

It was in fact a former Belmont student who ended up getting a job at Morris who made the introduction that led to this ongoing partnership.

“Morris has been a great supporter of our students and the showcases ever since their involvement began in 2012,” said Lucas Boto, Coordinator of Sound Reinforcement & Live Events in the Curb College. “No one person can be an expert at all things so we strive to bring in various people who specialize in their field. It's very gratifying to see our students, who end up getting hired by our vendor partners, come back after graduating to tech the events. Over the years, it’s kind of become like a big family reunion.”

Click here for more information on the Belmont Showcase Series and the CEMB.