Commercial Music Program Gains Real-World Experience at NAMM

Published: May 15, 2023 | Author: Kol Gibson | Read Time: 3 minutes

Commercial music students pose together at NAMM.

This spring, Dr. McKay Tebbs and his undergraduate students in the Commercial Music program attended the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Trade Show in Anaheim, California. They were able to network with professionals in the music industry, meet some of their musician heroes, win equipment, play alongside SUU alumni, and even perform an original song. 

For over 120 years, the NAMM trade shows have been strengthening the music products industry and promoting the pleasures and benefits of making music. The vision of the organization is to create a world in which music and making music is truly valued and everyone has the opportunity and the right to engage with music at all levels of interest. The trade show definitely accomplished its goals with our students.

A group of Commercial Music students pose in front of a tree.“I am so grateful to Dr. Tebbs and the Music Department for making it possible for us to go to the NAMM show,” says recent graduate Chris Cheney. “I went with intentions for networking, finding inspiration, and to see brand-new technology, and I did all that and more! I made great connections with a dozen different companies and made new amazing friends from across the globe. This experience was definitely worth my while.”

Another student, Zach Anderson, was what Dr. Tebbs called “a networking machine.” He met and collaborated with many people, including successful YouTube vloggers. Additionally, he won a $500 piano stand from a German company that expressed interest in making him a sponsored artist. 

The NAMM show includes performances by sponsored artists, and one of these artist groups was The Bird Watchers, a vocal harmony/ukulele group made up of SUU alumni Andy Nufer and Kim Bjerga. “It was inspiring for my students to see people who grew up right here in Cedar City doing amazing things with their music. To top it all off, our alumni even invited our students up on stage to perform an original piece. I’m so grateful that they got that amazing opportunity,” comments Dr. Tebbs.

NAMM PerformanceSophomore Savannah Billeter recalls, “I think the biggest thing I learned was that people want to listen to your stuff and work with you and that you just need to get it out there. I’m so glad I got to perform and have this chance to put myself out there and share my work.” 

These students came away from the NAMM trade show with more knowledge of the music industry and more confidence in themselves as artists and musicians. Freshman Pénélope Campion wrapped up the trip best when she said, “I am now more determined than ever to do whatever it takes to make my dreams a reality because I know now that it is possible! There are so many people in the music industry just waiting for new artists to learn, grow, and find success.”

The Bachelor of Music in Commercial Music program is now a year old and gives students the opportunity to take classes in music technology, audio recording techniques, songwriting, and music entrepreneurship. To learn more about how you can support Commercial Music at SUU, please visit


About the College of Performing and Visual Arts

The College of Performing and Visual Arts (CPVA) at Southern Utah University comprises 41 academic programs including liberal arts (BA/BS) and professional (BFA, BM, BMEd) degrees in art, design, dance, filmmaking, music, and theatre. It includes graduate programs in the fields of arts administration (MFA, MA), music education (MME), and music technology (MM). More than 60 full-time faculty and staff are engaged in teaching and mentoring over 900 majors in the College. CPVA presents over 100 performances, lectures, presentations, and exhibitions each year and is affiliated with the Southern Utah Museum of Art (SUMA), Utah Shakespeare Festival, and the Center for Shakespeare Studies. Southern Utah University is an accredited member of the National Association of Schools of Art & Design (NASAD), National Association of Schools of Dance (NASD), National Association of Schools of Music (NASM), and the National Association of Schools of Theatre (NAST) making SUU the first public university in the state of Utah to be accredited by all four associations. For more information about the College of Performing and Visual Arts, visit

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Kol Gibson