October 3, 2014 at 10:15am
Kevin Guarnieri, Millikin University's new director of Millitrax Studios, is one of several new faculty members on campus contributing to the institution's mission of Performance Learning. Developing a successful career as a studio engineer, Guarnieri is using his experience to teach Millikin undergrads music production through studio recording practicums.

"One of the things that I've noticed since I've started at Millikin is the great quality of students," said Guarnieri. "The students 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."

Guarnieri brings a wealth of studio recording experience to Millikin's School of Music. Since 1999, he has worked as a studio engineer with several critically-acclaimed recording artists including 'NSYNC on their 2001 album "Celebrity," Mariah Carey, Mick Jagger and Randy Jackson. His most recent work was with Travis Tritt in 2013 on his album "The Calm After'€¦"

Guarnieri is currently teaching Studio Techniques I and Engineering Practicum in the School of Music.

"Just looking at my end of the spectrum and the School of Music, I've been impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge that Millikin has to offer," said Guarnieri. "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, Guarnieri, along with his sister, started a design company that became a successful business. Four years later, Guarnieri decided to follow his passion for succeeding in the music industry and attended 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," said Guarnieri. "It helped me get my foot in the door."

After graduating from Full Sail, Guarnieri left Orlando for Los Angeles to find an opportunity at a recording studio. Guarnieri found that opportunity at Westlake Audio where he worked for close to three years. Guarnieri's biggest opportunity at Westlake happened while working with bassist Randy Jackson during sessions for 'NSYNC's "Celebrity" album.

Guarnieri added, "About six months after we finished the 'NSYNC album, I was lucky enough to be hired regularly to engineer sessions Randy produced."

While working with Randy Jackson, Guarnieri put in many hours of session work with Mariah Carey on several albums. He also worked on albums for the Backstreet Boys and Whitney Houston.

Shortly after, Guarnieri started to get involved with teaching recording classes and being a guest speaker at institutions such as UCLA and the Los Angeles Film and Recording School. He would speak with students about their interest in music production. After developing a new passion for teaching, he landed 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," said Guarnieri. "I ultimately wanted to work at a regionally accredited university and that's what led me to Millikin."

An Avid Certified Instructor, Guarnieri hopes Millikin students learn and appreciate the newer production styles and 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," said Guarnieri. "I want to teach them all the basics but also provide them a lot of insight. There's a lot of opportunities for creativity."

When asked about incorporating Performance Learning in his classes, Guarnieri says, "A lot of what I'm going to do will apply to the Performance Learning standard. It's not just about learning how to record vocals, it's also knowing when to play something through someone's headphones. To me, the School of Music is a place where we're trying to train students to become professionals."