Getting invaluable hands-on experience
When recent graduate Nikkovia Sweet began her Composition and Music Technologies
studies at LaGrange College, she knew she had a lot to learn.
"I didn't know anything about composition," she says with a smile. "I was a lyricist.
I had never written chords or harmonies, and I knew nothing about music technologies.
But I knew I wanted to study music, and I knew I wanted to study here."
A native of Franklin, Ga., Nikkovia says she grew up hearing about LaGrange College.
"The school has a great reputation," she says. "I came for a visit and fell in
love with the people, the campus and the atmosphere. This was the place for
me, because I knew I could grow as a person and as a student."
Her first opportunity came when she was assigned work-study with Paul Hammock,
Technical Director for the Music program. She says her education began immediately.
"He got me working on recording and how to engineer, and it just expanded from
there," she says. "I started working on a lot of student works, as well as my own.
I also starting writing my own music that I am very proud of."
Hammock continued to give more and more responsibilities to his protégé, including
filming events for Theatre Arts.
Nikkovia also worked for the college's Communications and Marketing Office.
"They hired me to stream some of the athletic events," she says. "It's been a
great experience because I've learned a lot about action videography. When I filmed
basketball, I had to figure out how to pan smoothly because the action is so fast-paced.
I also had to learn how to get the right amount of crowd noise and to make sure
that no one is yelling into the microphone."
In October 2013, she was approached with a new project.
"Patricia Barrett and Jacque Hornsby in the Suber Archives at Lewis Library discovered
a box of old reel-to-reel tapes from the 1960s and 1980s, and they asked us if
we could digitize them so they could be included in the collection."
David Wiggins, Acquisitions and General Assistant at the library, was able to
acquire and refurbish a reel-to-reel player that was necessary for the project.
Lee Johnson, Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Music, served as Nikkovia's supervisor.
She completed the project in March, although there is still some work to be done
to have the recordings available to the public.
"We're still figuring out the best way to get them on the library's archives page,"
Barrett says. "These recordings are significant. A few of them feature lectures
and speeches by former president Waights G. Henry Jr., and you can even hear in
the background the pipe organ that was lost in the 1971 Dobbs fire."
Nikkovia firmly believes projects like the archives assignment and the videography
work are opportunities she would have never had at a larger college or university.
"I would not have gotten the close, hands-on experience that I've had here," she
says. "I've learned so much about music technologies and composition, but I've
also learned what I want to do with my life."
Nikkovia says she'd like to work in the audio, video and technological side of
theater or the music industry.
"I always knew I wanted to do something that I was passionate about and wouldn't
hate at the end of the day," she says.
"I found that direction here. They teach
you all the things you will need to be professional, creative, a great employee
and how to be successful in your endeavors. I got it all right here."