MTSU student experience at Bonnaroo ‘no game time for them’

A team of approximately 25 students are working under the hot sun to produce content for the 2022 Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival under the guidance of Middle Tennessee State University faculty and staff.

MTSU’s Director of Studies came to see for himself how students learn and work in one of the best live music experiences in the world, which doubles as a classroom for students.

University Provost Mark Byrnes, accompanied by Dean of Media and Entertainment, Beverly Keel, and Greg Pitts, Director of the School of Journalism and Strategic Media, visited the student team.

“This kind of hands-on experience is extremely valuable to our students because it complements what they’re learning in the classroom,” Byrnes said. “It also gives them a chance to figure out if they want to do this for a living.”

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Byrnes’ visit came ahead of Friday’s weather warning at Bonnaroo Farm due to concerns about a rapidly approaching thunderstorm with high winds. Festival organizers asked patrons to shelter in their vehicles around 11:30 a.m. and closed the gates and main grounds until the storm passed shortly after 1 p.m.

A video recap of MTSU’s activities at the festival so far, featuring students, faculty and staff, can be viewed at

The partnership between MTSU and Bonnaroo dates back to 2014, coming back strong this year after a pandemic pause in 2020 and weather cancellation in 2021.

This is an annual labor of love, said Andrew Oppmann, MTSU vice president and spokesman, for media and entertainment students who earn college credit for their work in video and sound production on Bonnaroo event scenes.

“It’s not recreation for them,” Keel said. “It’s really, I would say boots on the ground, but flip-flops on the ground.”

Students gain valuable experience in content creation, including video and photo storytelling and digital reporting.

Bonnaroo organizers asked if students and faculty from MTSU’s Media Arts and Recording Industry departments could help out this year by doing video and audio production for the service’s late-night DJ productions. Hulu streaming service, which Keel described as a “next level new chapter”. ”

“It’s absolutely an extension of the classroom, taking what they’ve been talking about and putting it to work,” Pitts said.

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That’s exactly how Kayla Bradshaw, a video and film production manager from Lexington, South Carolina, sees it.

“I want to get hands-on experience with live productions and concerts. New locations and trying to figure out what works best where – and I never thought I’d be able to do that here,” she said. “I knew we had done Bonnaroo, but not to this level.”

Byrnes told Keel that the Bonnaroo classroom was “one of many signature events at your college.

“It really helps explain why this is a world-class college – because your students at your college have opportunities they just can’t find anywhere else,” Provost said.