John Yannelli and Emily Cardwell ’16

The Art and Science of Music Recording

Emily Cardwell ’16 and music faculty member John Yannelli together created a capstone conference project with lasting impact for Sarah Lawrence College: they built a post-production and recording lab in the Marshall Field Carriage House.

Emily and John spoke about the project and what’s unique about learning and teaching at Sarah Lawrence.

How would you describe this project?

Emily: My project was designing and building a sound studio for post-production and recording. There was a room upstairs in the Marshall Field Carriage House that had just kind of been sitting there wanting to become a studio for a while. So we did it.

John: Emily is one of the top students in her field right now, and she has studied all four levels of electronic music here. Her project started out as an academic one, but its success is leading to the actual manifestation of a space. I think that’s really exciting, not just for Emily, but because this is something the College itself is going to benefit from.

Emily: Initially my goal was to learn more about acoustics and music from the physics perspective, and to learn more about production. I’m a composer and a singer, but I’m really interested in being a complete musician by mastering the whole process of making my music. I feel like I did that in this project, and now it’s going to be great for other people to use the studio as well.

What's special about conference work at Sarah Lawrence?

John: In conference work, a student can go past where the curriculum stops. So they—in conjunction with their adviser—develop a project that is the next level for them. In electronic music, all the advanced courses are individual projects. In Emily’s case, she had already completed all of the course offerings, and needed and wanted something that was going to go beyond where she was.

Emily: What’s incredible about Sarah Lawrence is that you learn who you are and what you want to do in your life, because you’re given the reins. You don’t have set guidelines of what you’re supposed to do. Professors really try to find a way to connect your passion with your craft.

John: Right. Conference projects move as fluidly from discipline to discipline as students’ passions and interests. It keeps students more engaged and produces better work.

What is distinct about—or essential to—Sarah Lawrence College, in your opinion?

John: The essential Sarah Lawrence is one-on-one tutorials, small classes, and the conference system that we’ve talked about. It’s that if Emily has an idea for an independent study that is maybe outside of the direct focus of what we do in class, she can explore that—with a little imagination, ingenuity, and innovative thinking.

Emily: The College teaches you to be an independent thinker. You get the most out of Sarah Lawrence when you take initiative to make projects your own.

John: Investments in Sarah Lawrence allow all of this to continue to evolve in a way that not only stays current with trends, but also holds on to the essence of the rich Sarah Lawrence experience. That work takes funding—and that takes a special group of individuals who feel as passionate about keeping this alive as we do here on campus.