Kevin Guarnieri, new director of Millitrax Studio, hopes to use the expertise he gained during his successful studio engineering career for the benefit of Millikin students. Guarnieri was hired to teach and run the studio following the retirement of Professor Ronnie Dean, who taught at Millikin for nearly 30 years before stepping down in May 2014.
“One of the things that I’ve noticed since I’ve started at Millikin is the great quality of students,” Guarnieri says. “They are willing to do the work that helps them grasp the technical side of recording music. The students seem eager, and they are talented – it’s fun.”
Since 1999, Guarnieri has worked as a studio engineer with several critically-acclaimed recording artists, including NSYNC, Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger and Randy Jackson. He most recently served as an engineer on country singer Travis Tritt’s 2013 album “The Calm After…”
“Just looking at my end of the spectrum and the School of Music itself, I’ve been impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge that Millikin has to offer,” Guarnieri says. “The instructional staff does a great job, and the programs offer great experiences for the students.”
Guarnieri graduated from Radford University in Radford, Va., in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in business management. In 1993, he and his sister started a successful design company. Four years later, Guarnieri decided to pursue a career in the music industry, enrolling in the Full Sail Center for the Recording Arts in Orlando, Fla. After one year, he earned an associate degree in recording arts and sciences. “At that time, I was given an introduction to the technology and the production procedures of a recording studio,” Guarnieri says. “It helped me get my foot in the door.” After graduating from Full Sail, Guarnieri left Orlando for Los Angeles and was hired by Westlake Audio, where he stayed nearly three years. During that time, he had the chance to work with nationally known bassist, singer, producer and television personality Randy Jackson during sessions for NSYNC’s 2001 “Celebrity” album.
“About six months after we finished the NSYNC album, I was lucky enough to be hired regularly to engineer sessions that Randy produced,” he says.
Working with Jackson led to session work on albums for Mariah Carey, the Backstreet Boys and Whitney Houston, among others.
Guarnieri later developed a passion for teaching after he taught recording classes and spoke with students about music production at UCLA and the Los Angeles Film and Recording School. As a result, he accepted a position at Madison Media Institute in Madison, Wis., teaching studio production.
“I wanted to make the transition from working in the studio to instructing,” Guarnieri says. “I ultimately wanted to work at a regionally accredited university, and that’s what led me to Millikin.”
Guarnieri teaches Millikin students to learn and appreciate newer production styles as well as classical techniques of recording. “How do you go into a session? How do you track drums? What’s the process? Those are the questions I want the students to think about,” Guarnieri says. “To me, the School of Music is a place where we’re training students to become professionals.”
Dane Lisser is media relations coordinator for Millikin’s marketing department.