This semester saw the completion of my senior capstone project, a must for every Shepherd student in order to graduate. If you’re a Communications major, this requires you to develop, propose and execute a project that showcases the skills you’ve honed the past couple of years. Depending on your concentration, and per the department’s approval, this can mean virtually anything you seriously want to do can be used for your final capstone project.
In my case, I knew immediately I wanted to do something involving music. As both a performer and fan, I have found a great deal of solace in music; from marching band and orchestra to rock bands and open mic nights, it has always been a huge part of my life. In college, my pursuit of becoming both a more knowledgeable and more connected musician has led me to places I never imagined I’d visit and gotten me involved in projects I never thought I’d consider, and I wanted my capstone project to represent that.
The project consisted of the recording and publishing of both a single and a corresponding music video, as well as an immersive social media campaign promoting their release. The entire project was very much fueled by trial and error, as I was consistently facing challenges that forced me to dig into all of my skills. Research was constant, as I was seemingly always googling and reading up on tips and tricks on how to make my project look and sound better. I was forced to do new things and try out new techniques, and the results were very interesting. From mixing and mastering to video editing, social media writing and graphic design preparation, I utilized the full extent of my gained knowledge.
The song, titled ‘Repossession’, was a very sentimental song for me. A hip-hop song, it was developed from several musical elements I had worked on over the years. The main guitar riff in the piece is one I have been trying to include in a song for years, while the main lyrical hook of the chorus is from a song I recorded back in 2013 but did not release. The music video (shown below) was shot by fellow Comm student Torin Penwell, and featured local landmarks of the area, including the Maryland Heights hiking trail and the wall in Shepherdstown. Other shots were of a more gritty nature, including of an abandoned factory in downtown Martinsburg. The result was a video that showed both the beauty and the grit of the local area.
The social media campaign involved my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook artist profiles, and utilized the planning program Hootsuite. This part of the project was surprisingly exhausting, as I was constantly planning, writing, editing, and preparing posts on the fly. The pay off, however, was incredible; not only did my song reach 88 plays within its first four days of release, the video alone reached almost 100 views within its first four!
Overall, this final capstone project was incredible, to say the least. I felt I pushed myself harder than I ever had on any single project before, and could honestly say that I was impressed with the final results. The attendees to my capstone presentation seemed to agree; I had a constant audience from the scheduled time from four to six pm, and even had to stay an extra half hour due to the interest. It was definitely a great way to cap off one of my biggest accomplishments as an undergraduate student, and the lessons I learned along the way are ones I’ll carry with me fondly into the next chapter of my life.