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June 2013

Ivy Link

Mike Reid Returns to Campus to Lead Weeklong Internship Program

Six Penn State Altoona students with aspirations of establishing themselves professionally in the music industry took a few giant leaps along their respective career paths during the final week of spring semester classes, thanks to the encouragement and advice offered by a famous Penn State alumnus.

Altoona native, Grammy Award winner, and former All-American football player, Mike Reid accepted an invitation from the college to share his knowledge and experiences with students through collaborations in the recording studio and group discussions that enhanced classroom instruction.

In partnership with Dr. Bonnie Cutsforth-Huber, assistant professor of music, and Dave Villani, instructor in communications and music, Reid focused on studio recording techniques, the songwriting process, and an array of topics related to the music business, such as licensing, publishing, and royalties. In addition, he provided individualized instruction during sessions devoted to the production of a song.

“Mike offered advice on lyric writing, song content, song form, melodic considerations, and many other factors that go into constructing a pop song,” said Villani. “All in all, this was an outstanding opportunity for the students, with a world-class song writer. Pedagogically, it was invaluable. No book can teach what Mike did in several days and engage the students like he did. I’d say we hit a home run with the Penn State Altoona and Mike Reid internship.”

Enshrined in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2005, Reid has been described by fellow songwriter Don Schlitz as “the most complete writer in our field. He competes only with himself.” Since scoring his first number one country hit song—“Inside” by Ronnie Milsap in 1983—he has composed more than two dozen top ten country and pop hits, with over twenty of those records soaring to number one on the charts.

“What struck me was how the students literally hung on every word Mike said,” commented Cutsforth-Huber. “Mike is so approachable and open, which made the students comfortable and ‘at home’ with him. It was wonderful to watch the students, and watch the light bulbs go on as they went through their various epiphanies. Every student was changed in a very positive way. The six students, who appeared quiet and nervous at the beginning of the internship, emerged with smiles and confidence at the end. As an educator, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing positive growth in your students, and I certainly saw that type of growth during the internship.”

Reid first gained fame and celebrity as a Penn State football player. As a senior All-America selection in 1969, he won the Outland Trophy as the nation’s outstanding interior lineman and the Maxwell Trophy as the outstanding player in college football. His achievements were celebrated with his induction into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.

The first-round draft pick of the Cincinnati Bengals in 1970, Reid was named NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. He developed into one of the premier linemen in the game and was voted NFL All-Pro in 1972 and ’73. He was still one of the National Football League’s top performers when he retired and moved to Nashville to pursue song writing in 1980.

“I had a great time,” Reid said at the conclusion of the internship. “I’m more concerned with what the students got out of it. If a light bulb went on at some point for each of the students, it was definitely worth doing.”

The sentiments expressed by senior Kawaun Harvey were representative of those echoed by his fellow interns.

“Mike Reid is one of the most down-to-earth, wise, and kind men I have ever come to know,” said Harvey. “This experience has truly changed my life, and as a result, I will continue to write music with a newfound confidence and a love for the craft.”