Making Connections

The road to Nashville starts at Auburn

Recording studio, professors of practice help Auburn Music evolve with industry
The Auburn University Department of Music—one of only 10 programs in the nation to be named a Yamaha Institution of Excellence in 2021—is building bridges to Nashville through a new recording studio, industry connections and degree programs ready to shape the future of music.

The Department of Music’s state-of-the-art recording studio will open in 2023. The Nashville-worthy facility will be outfitted with the latest audio technology and designed by Steven Durr Designs, who have worked with Garth Brooks, Lenny Kravitz and Blake Shelton, among others.

“Auburn’s Department of Music is smaller than most SEC schools. However, we go above and beyond to give our students what they need to succeed,” Department of Music Chair Rick Good said. “This recording studio will be second to none and connect us with not only Nashville, the biggest city in the music industry, but also Atlanta, only 100 miles to our east.”

The recording studio will enhance student learning, curriculum development, community outreach and creative research and scholarship. The department also hopes to address varied and contemporary musical interests to evolve with the competitive music industry and recruit a robust and diverse population of students.

The experiential learning opportunities and cutting-edge technology of the studio will support new academic programs in the department, including composition and technology, commercial/pop vocal performance, music business and audio engineering.

For Professor of Practice Jilla Webb’s record label class, a recording studio will provide a space to write, record and produce original music to be released, marketed and sold all at Auburn.

Webb, who has performed around the world and continues to release original recordings while teaching the next generation of musicians, said Auburn’s commercial music program focuses on the “whole artist,” including a healthy commercial voice, style and personal brand.

“This is a very hands-on program,” Webb said. “I know exactly what it takes to be a successful professional in the music industry and what it takes to build a strong, healthy and unique voice that will last forever. Finding your own voice, literally and figuratively, takes courage. It’s not an easy undertaking. It’s our job to guide and mentor them along their journey to becoming the artist they want to be.”

The composition and technology degree program emphasizes the compositional process in modern music, film and television scoring, game scoring, concert and educational music, songwriting and song production, and more. Graduates of the program will excel as composers across a range of musical applications.

Professor and Director of Composition and Technology Lee Johnson leads the program with decades of composition, conducting and production experience. He said the composition and technology industry is accelerating and empowering change, and Auburn’s embracing new technology and production facilities will set the university apart from its academic neighbors.

Student composer while conduction
“Auburn University has made bold, timely and well-crafted decisions that allow us to prepare students for the dynamic and demanding music industry,” Johnson said. “We understand that legitimate and professional music ranges from the concert hall to the mobile phone gaming app. We have embraced and activated the concept that real music is a reflection of the real world and our students should be able to find their places in it.”
Department of Music students group photo
Earlier this year, Auburn Music celebrated students admitted to the Country Music Association’s leadership program and students who landed competitive internships in Nashville. Chair Rick Good said Auburn’s focus on the many aspects of the multibillion-dollar music industry offers students several avenues to success, and the department will only add to those avenues in years to come.

“The future of the Department of Music is very bright,” Good said. “Two new degree programs in commercial music and composition and technology are leading the way along with our performance degree. We’ve already received attention from Nashville for our recording studio. With these connections to Music City USA, we anticipate Nashville will be filled with Auburn voices very soon.”

To support the Department of Music at Auburn University contact the CLA Office of Advancement at 334-844-1483 or