Innovative one-year program to give musicians industry skills for success
The University of Manitoba’s Desautels Faculty of Music is thrilled to announce that it has received approval for the Micro-Certificate in Songmaking (MCS), an innovative one-year program designed to give musicians of popular genres the skills they need to succeed in the music industry.
“Students in the program will learn foundational skills in songwriting, basic computer programs, audio production, and the music business from industry professionals. Through these experiences, they will develop the skills to grow in their music-making in bands or as songwriters while gaining insights into navigating the music business,” says Ed Jurkowski, dean of the Desautels Faculty of Music.
“This micro-certificate creates an opportunity for the DFOM to support and engage with the larger music community in new and exciting ways,” he says.
The program is slated to begin Fall Term 2023, and applications for the program will be accepted soon.
About the program
The Micro-Certificate in Songmaking offers courses that are rooted in experiential, hands-on learning, led by professional musicians from a wide range of popular genres. In addition to the skills learned in the program, students will also enjoy a number of valuable benefits.
“They will develop an extended network of musicians and mentors through the students and instructors in these classes,” says Jurkowski.
The Desautels Faculty of Music has long wanted to serve musicians outside the sphere of classical and jazz traditions, and we celebrate the hard work done by faculty members and UM administrators to make this program a reality.
The program, open to musicians 18 years of age or older, works to reduce barriers to a music education, and is designed to support working people, with courses offered in the evenings and on weekends. Students can complete the full complement of courses in order to receive the certificate, or can elect to take only the courses that most interest them. Registration for the program will be on a first-come-first-served basis.
Manitoba Music, Winnipeg’s member-based, not-for-profit industry association for professional popular musicians, has offered its full support of the program. While Manitoba Music offers a variety of short courses and workshops, it says it welcomes the addition of a program that offers more structured and intensive training for musicians.
“We believe there is an opportunity in the market for a program that would serve musicians not entering a conservatory or jazz course of study with skills and experience in songwriting and performing,” said Sean McManus, Executive Director of Manitoba Music, in his letter of support for the program.
“The [MCS] addresses that gap in the current landscape of music education as a structured, accessible, and affordable course of study in songwriting and music business,” McManus adds.
“Students can look forward to being mentored by leading professionals in a collaborative atmosphere that encourages and supports their creativity,” says Mel Braun, a voice professor in the Desautels Faculty of Music and Head of the vocal area, who helped to develop the program.
While Braun is known in the faculty for helping to train opera singers and musical theatre performers, he is also an in-demand vocal coach for rock and pop musicians in Winnipeg’s indie music scene, helping musicians make the most of their unique voices and providing them with skills and training to preserve their pipes. He has long sought an avenue that provides these genres of musicians with specialized music education tailored to their needs, and is delighted to see this program finally come to fruition.
“Whether solo artist or band member, the program will help musicians bring their songs from first inspiration to demo quality, while also providing the guidance needed to get their music out to the public. Students can expect small, hands-on classes and plenty of opportunity to work out their songs in a group setting,” Braun says.
“Let the fun begin!” he adds.
Courses in the program
A description of the individual courses, when they are offered, and their approximate fees can be found below.
- MUSC 0100 Songwriting (Weekly 3 hour class for 6 weeks, offered fall term, $600)
Fundamentals of songwriting explored through writing with various constraints and prompts, collaborative songwriting sessions, and a wide range of approaches to the craft. Analysis and song-writing theory will be part of the class, along with a focus on lyrics. Students will gain the tools needed to refine their songwriting craft. The varied songwriting styles of participants will naturally lead to a diverse range of pop genres and collaborative performance will be encouraged.
- MUSC 0102 Songwriting Lab 1 (Weekly 1.5 hour class for six weeks, offered fall term, $300)
The collaborative performance encouraged in the songwriting class will be explored in this weekly group class. Students will gain the experience of writing collaboratively, working in an ensemble setting, and refining a demo performance. Students will practice writing to prompts and with constraints, writing in different voices, and to publishing briefs. This approach draws on the real world experience of professional songwriting and demoing while allowing for peer- to-peer and instructor learning. Vocal production and performance coaching, reflective of the studio experience, will also be part of the lab.
Pre- or corequisite: MUSC 0100 or Instructor permission
- MUSC 0104 Music Production 1 (Weekly 3-hour class for 6 weeks, offered fall term, $600)
Learn the fundamentals of industry standard software for the purposes of composing and recording music. Our focus on the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) as the centre of the songwriting, song sharing, and demo recording process is very suitable for the workflow of professional songwriters. Introduction to software will include Ableton Live, cubase, Logic, Reaper, and others. The course will include an introduction to additional online resources to supplement students’ learning. The course will enable students to record their own music, creating demos and recordings that can be used as a basis for further career development.
- MUSC 0106 Business of Music (Weekly 3-hour class for 6 weeks, offered winter term, $600)
Exploration of music business basics, focusing on the skills needed to manage and promote one’s own music. Entrepreneurship, project management, online marketing, event promotion, licensing and copyright, grant writing, accounting, agreements and contracts, and team building are some of the music business topics covered. This course will also focus on the business of music publishing, with additional content on managing projects and releasing and marketing music. It will introduce performers to the music industry essentials needed to support their creative endeavours.
- MUSC 0108 Music Production 2 (Weekly 3-hour class for 6 weeks, offered winter term, $600)
Focus on arrangement, production and live audio set-ups, building on the software exploration undertaken in Music Recording 1. Students will learn how to set up their own recording environment, use a recording studio, and work with video. Students will receive a strong understanding of how to use song arrangements/production techniques to help convey the intention behind the composition. Sound mixing and logistics of sound for recording and live performances will also be included. These valuable tools will further enable students to pursue their music careers with songwriting, recording, video and live performances. Laptop or tablet required.
Prerequisite: MUSC 0104 or Instructor permission
- MUSC 0110 Songwriting Lab 2 (Weekly 1.5-hour class for 6 weeks, offered winter term, $300)
The collaborative performance encouraged in the songwriting class will be further explored in this weekly group class. Students will gain the experience of writing collaboratively, working in an ensemble setting, and refining a demo performance. Students will practice writing to prompts and with constraints, writing in different voices, and to publishing briefs. This approach draws on the real world experience of professional songwriting and demoing and while allowing for peer-to-peer and instructor learning. Vocal production and performance coaching, reflective of the studio experience, will also be part of the lab.
Prerequisite: MUSC 0100 or Instructor permission
The University of Manitoba is currently working to add the Micro-Certificate in Songmaking into the registration system. Musicians interested in the program, or any of its courses, should submit the Expression of Interest form to be the first to know when registration opens.