The wait for Buffalo State’s newest major

Thomas Tedesco, Vice President

Located in Rockwell Hall, the Digital Music Production Minor at Buffalo State has been striving to become a full-blown major for the past few semesters.

However, certain obstacles have prevented them from achieving this goal.

“Right now, we’re at an impasse where we are waiting,” said Dr. Jose Tomas Henriques, the head of the Digital Music Production Minor.

Henriques founded program at Buffalo State and says he has steadily grown it since his arrival at the school in 2009.

He constructed the Digital Music Production lab located in Rockwell Hall with the help of grants from SUNY and the program has hosted several events on campus in collaboration with other programs in the school and with outside artists.

“No other SUNY degree right now offers a four-year degree in Digital Music Production. So, Buffalo State actually has the opportunity to become a leader,” Henriques said.

After receiving approval to become a major from the school and SUNY in 2019, the progress was stalled in the spring of 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Administration cited low enrollment in the school as another reason to delay the creation of the major.

According to Institutional Research at Buffalo State, enrollment at the school has been steadily declining for the past six years. In the fall of 2015, total census enrollment was over 10,000 students. By the fall of 2020, it dropped to a little over 8,000 students.

Despite the decline, Henriques says the program’s numbers are in good shape. There are 42 students currently enrolled in the minor and he says an additional 15-20 students are actively taking its classes even though they are not officially enrolled in the minor.

“I think sometimes the best defense is a good offense. Instead of just sitting and waiting for things to get better, I think we should actually start right away to offer new degrees and new things that are not offered anywhere else,” Henriques said.

Another obstacle presented itself when the school that the program was housed in, the School of Arts and Humanities, merged with the School of Natural and Social Sciences to become the School of Arts and Sciences. Henriques was optimistic at first, but the new administration subsequently tempered his enthusiasm.

“I was very excited because I thought that this new designation and the merger of these two former schools would be the perfect platform for a new degree in music technology to be embraced, nurtured and supported,” Henriques said, “especially when music technology, by definition is the marriage and blending of art, technology, creativity, engineering and other applied sciences.”

Some students like second year Arts and Letters Major and Digital Music Production Minor, Steven Shaneyfelt, says that the program was the deciding factor for attending Buffalo State even though there is not a full major yet.

“I took the gamble of getting my foot in the door with Digital Music in the hopes that it will become a major and everything will come full circle,” he said.

Shaneyfelt said he would quickly switch his major if digital music production became an option.

“If they didn’t have the program, I would probably go somewhere else,” he said.

Despite the obstacles, faculty and students still remain optimistic about the program’s growth.

“We are a bit frustrated, but we are still hopeful that we can move forward,” Henriques said.

For more information on the program and their events, visit their webpage or the Buffalo State Music Department’s Facebook page.