What was engineering student Matthew Lanney ’24 doing at the largest annual trade show for the audio and music industry? Considering an alternative career path at the request of Andrew Cote, assistant professor of practice in the Department of Visual and Performing Arts and Merrimack College’s assistant director of bands.
Lanney was one of five Merrimack students affiliated with the music program to get a free trip to the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show in Anaheim, CA. NAMM’s Lamond GenNext Awards, which Lanney received along with Dawson Medieros ’26, Audrey McGill ’25, Dawnisha Chavez ’26 and Andrew Leuci ’24, covered airfare, lodging and admission to the four-day event held Jan. 25 through 28.
“Dr. Cote brought up to me there is a whole field of people in the music industry that need engineers to either do process engineering, design speakers and microphones and this and that,” Lanney explained. “I am a (saxophonist and music minor) outside of my engineering major and I love it with all my heart, so I thought it would be awesome to explore the potential of putting the two together.”
The event features hundreds of exhibitors and vendors, lectures from industry experts and educators, and plenty of networking opportunities for those looking to get their foot in the music industry door. It isn’t all business, though.
“There’s also hundreds of performances,” Cote explained. “There are several stages that are actually at the convention center, and some are outdoors at the hotels that are next door. There’s live music happening pretty much 24/7.”
Cote attended last year’s convention through a grant from the College Music Society.
“In doing so, they’ve encouraged me to start bringing students to participate,” he explained. “Last year they awarded around 40 GenNext grants, so it’s a pretty significant population of Merrimack students who went this year.”
At this year’s NAMM Show, Cote participated in two workshops. The first was a panel discussion on designing a modern music technology and recording arts curriculum. The second was a solo discussion on how he helped to reinvent Merrimack’s music program.
“It’s about highlighting ways that you can start using professional equipment like instruments, plug-ins and recording software without spending a whole lot of money,” he explained.
“Dr. Cote told me about the NAMM Show during our songwriting class last spring and I was really interested in it,” she explained. “He sent us the scholarship in an email and I applied because, why not? I’m glad I did. I learned a lot about the importance of relationships, collaboration and networking in the music industry.”
One of her highlights from the trip was running into Katie Cole, the touring keyboardist for The Smashing Pumpkins. Lanney, meanwhile, said he loved trying out a selection of high-end saxophone mouthpieces.
Cote said the five students were perfect fits for the Lamond GenNext Awards.
“I feel confident that it’s going to open up more doors for them as they continue to pursue work in the music industry,” he said.