#ElonGrad 2022 spotlight: Dan Conley, music production and recording arts

In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2022 from a wide array of disciplines.

Elon College Fellow Dan Conley ’22 pursued avenues of musical exploration in studios, on stages, and behind the mixing board.

A music production and recording arts major, he became and remained involved with the Audio Engineering Society and Limelight Records, Elon’s student-run record label, all four years. He was president of the Audio Engineering Society for two years. He also played guitar with the Elon Music Ambassadors two semesters and received the Chair’s Award for Music Excellence his junior year.

Why did you choose music production and recording arts as a major?

I wanted to study something I am very passionate about and have a variety of directions to go in after college. These could be audio engineering, post-production audio editing, orchestrating, among other opportunities.

As my College Fellows project, I chose to research the trend of drug use among popular musicians and audiences. I presented this project, titled “Like A Rolling Stone: The Glorification of Drug Use in American Popular Music,” at Spring Undergraduate Research Forum Day in April 2022.

Were there faculty who particularly influenced your education at Elon?

As a guitarist, Dr. Carey Harwood has taught me more in our time together than I could possibly learn on my own. As a jazz improviser, Prof. Chip Newton has exposed me to arrangements, improvisational styles, song forms, and techniques that I will continue to learn from. For virtually everything else, Dr. Todd Coleman has been an invaluable part of my success at Elon. He’s served as my academic advisor, research mentor, and the first (and final) ensemble director I’ve gotten to work with. These three professors have continually challenged me to become a more well-rounded, confident, professional and civil person. It has been my absolute privilege to work with each of them.

What are your plans after graduation?

Immediately following graduation, I plan to return home to Pittsburgh and begin setting aside money with which I will use to relocate to another part of the country and enter into the music industry. At the moment, I have plans to move to Nashville.

What’s been the best part of your time at Elon?

The time I’ve spent with my friends has been an irreplaceable part of my Elon experience. We’ve all done a number of great projects together, we’ve all been very supportive of one another, and we’ve all grown immensely as a result.

What advice would you give future students?

Here’s a bit of advice that I formulated the last time I went for a run, it’s more of a self-prescription but it can apply to anyone who needs it: confidence is key, even in the face of failure. Mistakes are so closely tied with life, that to fear them is to live in fear. The challenge of life is not to avoid making mistakes; the challenge is really to avoid the same mistakes more than once.