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July 16, 2024

Delta State’s Delta Music Institute

Program continues to grow and will receive upgrades in 2023

By Amile Wilson

The Bolivar Bullet

The Delta Music Institute is one of the Cleveland’s best kept secrets. DMI Director Richard Tremmel is working to make it a little less secret. 

A combination hands on learning environment and professional recording studio, DMI operates as an independent center under the Delta State College of Arts and Sciences and has built a powerful reputation in both education and the recording industry.  

Now in his eighth year at the Institute, Tremmel has overseen the DMI’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 shutdowns and is now overseeing an incredible expansion of resources and technology at the Institute.

In 2023, the Institute will open a Dolby Atmos Immersive Audio Studio. The new studio, known as Studio D, will be a major upgrade for the university capabilities and the student’s experience. Dolby Atmos is a 7.1.4 surround sound system meaning there are seven speakers at ear level, 1 subwoofer, and four above the listener. 

“Movies have always embraced surround sound but it is just getting into music,” said Tremmel. 

According to their website, Dolby describes the Atmos as is the next step in surround sound, providing listeners an “immersive audio experience … in a three-dimensional sound field, which is not possible in stereo.” This is the only Atmos studio available in Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas or Louisiana. 

The DMI Studio C is also receiving an updated mixer console in 2023. 

Students not only have the opportunity to work hand on with advanced studio technology, they are able to work in live events as well. DMI students provide the audio support for Clarksdale’s Juke Joint Festival and get hands on experience mixing for artists on four stages. 

“We like to call that experiential learning,” said Tremmel. “When they go to do live sound, they’re working with the general public in real time. Anything can happen and often does.” 

Whether in studio or for live events, it is the hands-on experience students receive which sets the DMI apart as a learning environment. This is also the segment of education hit the hardest by COVID shutdowns.

“I had students withdraw from class and say they’d come back later when we were hands-on again,” said Tremmel. His class on live sound mixing took a particular hit during this time. 

Enrollment is steady at the near pre-pandemic level of 30 students per incoming class, but Tremmel’s want to increase that number. 

“Our goal is 50 new Freshman,” he said.

Fortunately, Tremmel has been given a flashy new tool to help achieve that. 

This spring, DMI will premier a 26-foot Blue Bird Bus renovated into a mobile recording studio. 

“This’ll be the ultimate recruiting tool,” said Tremmel. 

Tremmel has big ideas of rolling up to schools and festivals with this new state of the art bus ready to record location sound. 

The bus is currently in Memphis receiving some final generator work, but has a finished interior and will be ready to work this spring. Crewed by students, the mobile recording studio serves as a roving showcase of the quality of education DMI students receive. 

The mobile recording studio has been made possible thanks to generous support from the Maddox Foundation and many others. 

The demand for skilled audio professionals remains high. “As soon as live performances came back, there was so much work, people are burning out,” said Tremmel. With lucrative post-graduation opportunities and cornucopia of new technology at their disposal, Tremmel has high hopes for the future of the Delta Music Institute.

“The biggest problem for us is that people visit and see this place and say they didn’t know we were here,” said Tremmel. “We’re the best kept secret, but we don’t want to be a secret any longer.”