Washington College invites regional musicians to use its Open Studio at no cost

CHESTERTOWN — Soon, budding recording artists and regional musicians will have the chance to access a professional recording studio and work alongside student and professional audio engineers to record their music — thanks to a new grant that is funding Washington College’s Open Studio.

The project provides an opportunity for regional amateurs and aspiring professional musicians of all ages to create and promote their music to broader audiences.

After applying and being approved to participate in the program, each artist or musical group will have one to three days of free access to the recording studio in the college’s Daniel Z. Gibson Center for the Arts and the ability to utilize Washington College audio engineers for recording and mixing — all at no cost.

Under the direction of Kenneth Schweitzer, associate professor of music, and in partnership with the Holstein Program in Ethics and the Washington College Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience, the $16,000 grant from the Mid-Shore Community Foundation aims to fund the project’s goal of building collaboration among musical communities of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Washington College faculty, staff and students.

“Open Studio is fueled by a desire to connect the resources of the Gibson Arts Center with our regional community, while also providing experiential learning opportunities and promoting professional success for our music students,” Schweitzer said in a news release. “The students and I look forward to sharing this opportunity, meeting local musicians, and supporting the vibrant musical culture of the mid-shore region of Maryland.”

The project welcomes all performing artists, including those who strive to preserve and celebrate underrepresented regional and folk traditions.

As part of the program, Open Studio also enables Washington College students to practice their music production skills with diverse populations.

Participating artists will receive their raw recordings and an initial mix of all the songs, followed by a limited number of final mixes.

Select audio tracks from the sessions will be posted to the Washington College Music Department’s Open Studio website  (www.washcoll.edu/academic_departments/music/open-studio/), where they can be archived and shared.

Additionally, after recording, chosen artists will be invited to perform their songs in the Gibson Arts Center and receive compensation for their work.

The performances also will be video recorded and streamed live online.

Interested musicians and music groups can apply for the Open Studio project online at https://washcolldean.formstack.com/forms/open_studio.

“The Holstein Program in Ethics and the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience are incredibly proud to see the Open Studio project open its doors to the public,” Patrick Nugent, the Thomas V. Mike Miller Director for Civic Engagement at Washington College, said in the news release.

He added, “Not only does this collaboration celebrate the best in American music and culture, but it does so in a way that provides access to our campus and engages students in the ethics of community engagement and inclusive excellence.”

Washington College is no stranger to giving a platform to the region’s talented artists. Over the past three summers, the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience’s Chesapeake Heartland project has hosted the annual Hip Hop Time Capsule, a program in which local high school interns build on Kent County’s history to craft a unique sound and style.

Each Hip Hop Time Capsule summer program records and produces a series of demo mixtapes in Washington College studios.

Drawing from music and interviews in Chesapeake Heartland’s digital archive, the students produce their own beats and musical compilations highlighting Black heroes in the region’s past.

The mixtapes and individual tracks from each time capsule are posted online for public listening.

In a written statement, college Provost Kiho Kim said: “The Open Studio is an example of what Washington College does so well — finding the spaces and opportunities to bring people together in wonderfully creative and impactful ways. Professor Schweitzer deeply understands that music is an essential ingredient for a vibrant society, and this grant will allow him and the Department of Music to bring new voices into our community and beyond.”

“Being a part of the Open Studio project means a lot to me as not only a musician but also as a student who is dedicated to gaining learning experience through hands-on work and collaborative efforts,” Stevie Lyles ’26 said in the news release. “I believe that working with every person who comes through the Open Studio will teach me valuable lessons that not many people would otherwise get the chance to learn. Overall, I am excited about the Open Studio project, and to play a role in making it happen!”

The Department of Music at Washington College offers a vast program of traditional classes, private music lessons and performance opportunities, where students can explore and experience music through the study of musical theater, production, recording, world music, composition, performance and more.

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