McNally Smith College of Music
|Guitar Center of Minneapolis, MusicTech College|
|Motto||“It’s Time to Do What You Love”|
|Active||1984–December 14, 2017|
|36 full time, 65 part time |
|Affiliations||National Association of Schools of Music, Higher Learning Commission|
|Website||None, was mcnallysmith.edu|
McNally Smith College of Music was a for-profit music college located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States. Initially (1984) known as Guitar Center of Minneapolis, renamed to Musictech College, moved to St. Paul in 2001, and was re-labeled again as McNally Smith College of Music by the school's two founders, Jack McNally and Doug Smith, to memorialize themselves on the school's 2005 20th anniversary. Initially, the school's concept was vocational, with the goal of providing students with real world skills with which to earn a living in the music industry. The vocational school began with six instructors and 200 private lesson students in a 3,000 square foot space within the Minneapolis warehouse district. In the fall of 1986 The Guitar Center began offering a state-approved full-time program. By 2000 the guitar school had become a music college, with over 250 students pursuing associate degrees and diploma certificates. The college purchased and renovated a former St Paul Arts & Science Center building into a 60,000 square foot campus with a 12-studio audio complex, customized classrooms, library, bookstore, café, and 300-seat auditorium with a 20k-watt Midas/EV sound system. In 2005, the reorganized and more traditional liberal arts school, McNally Smith College of Music, moved away from vocational training with higher tuition and overall costs, more liberal arts course requirements, and dramatically more administrative overhead. School enrollment peaked in 2007 and began a downhill slide to the eventual demise in December, 2017. The college attempted to operate a European campus at the Media Docks in Lübeck, Germany, opening in 2004. The German campus was officially closed in 2009.
The school offered degree programs in Music Production, Music Business, Composition and Songwriting, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Brass and Woodwinds, Strings, and Liberal Arts. In the fall of 2009 the school opened the much-ridiculed "first nationally accredited diploma program for hip-hop". Over the next several years, BA and MA degree programs were added to the school's academic offerings.
According to CollegeCalc.org, “Tuition for McNally Smith College of Music is $27,040 for the 2015/2016 academic year. This is 89% more expensive than the national average private for-profit four year college tuition of $14,323. The cost is 31% more expensive than the average Minnesota tuition of $20,702 for 4 year colleges. Tuition ranks 43rd in Minnesota amongst 4 year colleges for affordability and is the 17th most expensive 4 year college in the state. Price does not vary by residence. The school charges additional fees of $900 in addition to tuition bringing the total effective in-state tuition to $27,940.”  The school's graduation and employment record was fairly unimpressive, but there are several ex-MSCM students who have carved out successful and creative lives in the music and audio world.
“On Tuesday, December 14, 2017, it was announced without forewarning that the college would close the next Wednesday, December 20 for financial reasons. “In an email, McNally Smith board Chairman Jack McNally asked staff to continue working without pay until then so students could get credit for the term. ‘We fully understand the awkwardness and unfairness of this request,’ he wrote in the email to employees.”  Faculty and staff were not given a hint of notice before the sudden announcement and were not offered any opportunity to assist in preventing the school's closing. The financial decision to close the school was solely made by McNally and Smith. Bankruptcy proceedings are still proceeding, and likely will not be completed until mid or late 2019. Numerous claims by students who claim they were told their credits would transfer to other colleges have not been settled and will likely drag on for months. The bankruptcy Trustee auctioned off the school's equipment in by mid-June, 2018. The building was purchased by a real estate firm in St. Paul in mid-2019 for less than half of the value it was appraised at only twelve months prior to the bankruptcy filing.
The loss of the school, its facilities, and the contribution the students and faculty made to downtown St. Paul will be felt by the downtown community for many years as the school and students provided a significant source of income, employment, and entertainment resources. As of October 2018, none of the school's faculty have been paid anything for the work McNally and Smith asked them to do “for the good of the students” during the last week of the school's existence. They, and administrative staff, are also owed for more than two weeks of salary that was unpaid prior to the closing of the school.
- John (Chopper) Black, recording engineer
- Mike Bogle, trombonist, pianist, vocalist, composer, and arranger
- Terry Burns, double bass player, composer, author
- Marvin Dahlgren, orchestral and jazz percussionist, educator, author, and clinician.
- Dessa, (Artist in Residence) singer, songwriter, poet, published author and female hip-hop artist
- Mike Elliott, guitarist, band leader, composer, author
- Freddy Fresh, underground dance music artist
- Scott Joseph Jarrett, multi-instrument musician, singer/songwriter, recording engineer and producer.
- Gordy Knudtson, drummer, percussion technique author.
- Joe Mabbott, record producer and recording engineer
- Michael McKern, musician, recording engineer and studio owner
- Jeremy Messersmith, (Artist in Residence) singer/songwriter
- Gary Raynor, double bass player
- Scott Rivard, recording engineer, Minnesota Public Radio studio engineer who recorded most of the station's internationally famous Prairie Home Companion shows. As an engineer at Sound 80, Scott and Tom Jung made some of the first quality recordings on 3M's digital systems including Flim & the BB’s, the 2nd digital recording ever made in the USA.
- Randy Sabien, jazz violinist, founder and chair of the Jazz Strings department of Berklee College of Music (1978–1981) and chair of the Strings department at McNally Smith in 2009.
- Bobby Stanton, guitarist, composer, winner of 7 Boston music awards, ASCAP and BMI awards, and is a professor at Berklee College of Music.
- Craig Schlattman, director, writer, producer, and cinematographer, 2008 Bush Foundation award recipient.
- Pete Whitman, saxophone player, composer, band leader
- Toki Wright, rapper, organizer, and educator
- Tsukayama, Hayley (July 10, 2009) "Hip-hop with honors" Archived 2009-07-15 at the Wayback Machine Star Tribune
- McNally Smith College of Music closing due to lack of funds