Grammy nominee Carl Nappa leverages expertise in the classroom


Carl Nappa is the department chair for the Audio Aesthetics and Technology department at Webster University. Alongside teaching, Nappa is a Grammy-nominated record producer who uses his expertise to enhance his teaching style.

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“My work in the past is a little different from most people’s approach to teaching. Most people have gone through some form of higher education, master’s degree, PhDs, where they learn how to teach and they see all these different styles of teaching,” Nappa said.

Nappa used his talents in New York City where he worked with some of the music industry’s top artists like Nelly. 

In St. Louis, Nappa owns The Saint Louis Recording Club, his current studio where he works with both new artists and experienced artists. 

Of the artists that Nappa has worked with, rapper Nelly has been his favorite.

“I always enjoyed working with him. He is a hard worker, great songwriter, made a lot of records and we have worked together over the last 15 years,” Nappa said. 

Nappa also credits Nelly for bringing him to St. Louis, where Nappa would later run Nelly’s music school, Vatterott College ex’treme Institute by Nelly. 

“When Nelly started his music school in 2010-2011, I was hired to run it, and it was very small at the beginning, and we had to teach all the classes, and I was thrown in the deep end,” Nappa said. 

As a record producer, he uses his professional experience to show students what their lives will look like after graduation. 

“What I developed as a style was, instead of, ‘this is what I learned in the books, and this is how a lot of people do it, then showing those techniques,’ [I use] ‘this is how I do it and how I got to where I am,’” Nappa said. 

Contributed photo from Webster University.

One student that has worked with Nappa more than most is Scooter Armstrong. Armstrong is a senior sound recording and engineering major who has had five classes with Nappa. 

“He explains things in a not-so-technical way and that is what a lot of audio is. You can get really bogged down with the technical stuff, but he is able to talk about it in a way that makes it more personal,” Armstrong said. 

In the four years that Nappa has been at Webster University, he has taken on many roles, his most recent being the chair of the Audio Aesthetics and Technology department.

“When I got here, I just wanted to teach … and as of last summer, the chair of the audio department stepped down,” Nappa said. “I didn’t have a here or there to do it, but after talking with [Dean Eric Rothenbuhler], I thought I’d give it a shot.”

Something that Nappa does in his style of teaching is keeping students engaged.  Nappa’s students say he does this well, even when it comes to the “less entertaining” topics. 

“He is a really entertaining teacher … he really keeps you on your toes with it and makes it engaging,” Armstrong said. “He is really interested in it, too, and that helps.” 

Through both his experience teaching at Webster and being a Grammy-nominated record producer, Nappa talks about the value that passion brings when choosing a career. 

“I try to keep it exciting and fun. Life is too short to be angry and miserable right?”

On top of continuing his teaching career, Nappa mentioned that he is working with two new young, up-and-coming artists.

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Brian Rubin
Staff Writer | + posts