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Training and Education

For Recording Engineering

Educated sound engineer David Mellor assesses the value of training for a career in recording.


At work in the University of Surrey's Neve-equipped studio.


The first thing I have to do here is come clean: I have a bias in the field of education for music recording. Firstly, I am fortunate enough to be one of the relatively few people with a paper qualification in the subject — a B. Mus (Tonmeister) from the University of Surrey — and I am actively involved in the education of would-be sound engineers, spending two highly enjoyable days each week at the City of Westminster College working with students on their sound courses. These two factors mean that I am almost bound to advise you to sign on for a course of one type or another, and that ideally you should make the City of Westminster College your first choice.

But hang on a minute, why should I be so obvious? Let me state one vitally important fact about working in recording or sound engineering: Even if you achieve paper qualifications as long as a roll of Andrex, you will never be able to call yourself a sound engineer until you have practical experience in the real world of work. That means doing a job and getting paid for it — or not getting paid for it if you screw up. I achieved my paper qualification just over ten years ago, but it didn't mean a thing until I put in into practice with four years at the Royal Opera House where I learned the meaning of hard work and high standards.

There has traditionally been a battle in this industry between those who say education is important and those, usually without any college-based training, who will say that education is a complete waste of time. I would say that the whole point of education (or training, which is a slightly different thing) is to provide a person with a springboard from which to leap into an uncertain future, to impart a range of knowledge and skills which can be adapted to changing circumstances as necessary. And one thing is absolutely certain: if we don't train people in this country to be competent and creative sound engineers, other countries will, and they will reap the rewards.

Oh, about my other bias, towards the City of Westminster College. Just to make sure that I'm fair to all the other colleges I am going to mention, let me advise you not to apply there. The work is terribly difficult, the lecturers are mean and nasty (one of them particularly so) and we expect 300 applicants for next year's course to be enough anyway. So there.

WHAT DO YOU WANT?



Before I explain what a course of education or training can do for you, you have to ask yourself what you want to achieve. What are your ambitions in engineering or music?

I would expect that most readers of this article would be interested in learning about recording engineering. In fact, recording engineering is so popular that demand for training far outstrips the demand for training in other industry segments, such as public address, theatre, broadcasting, and film/video sound. Everyone wants to be a recording engineer. It's only a pity that recording engineering is the most difficult type of course for any establishment to run. To clarify some of the different types of motivation and possible routes to success that exist I have imagined a number of scenarios. Some are not as encouraging as others!

A young hopeful wants to get into the music industry. He or she thinks that a course would open the door to fame and fortune.

It won't — it will only open the door out onto the back street.

Another young hopeful wants to get into a recording studio thinking that it will be full of glamourous exciting people living fast expensive lifestyles.

Dream on!

A musician has a unfulfilled passion to be a performer. He or she thinks that working as a recording engineer would be the next best thing to do.

Can this person compete with people for whom recording is the only thing?

A keen follower of a certain musical style expects a course to provide training in that style as though no others exist.

That style will be past its sell-by date by the end of the course.

A young person is forever tinkering with equipment, taking it apart to see how it works and successfully putting it back together.

Don't be a recording engineer — be a maintenance engineer and get paid more.

A musically and technically aware person wants to work with people and equipment on demanding but rewarding projects and has the determination to start at the bottom and work up slowly to a fulfilling career as a recording engineer.

Is this you? You may have what it takes.

Recording engineering is popular, but there are other types of sound engineering too. In fact, when you take all the different types of sound engineering applications together, recording engineering is a very tiny segment. There are many more microphones used to pick up speech than for any musical purpose. Where a recording engineer requires an ability to operate the equipment in the multitrack studio and work successfully with musicians and producers, other fields of sound engineering tend to be more technical. For instance, if you want to be a PA engineer working on large projects (as opposed to the band down at the local pub) then you will need to be able to specify a system suitable for the venue, direct and assist in setting up, operate the system, and track down any faults that occur.

As you might expect, recording engineers and PA engineers are two very different breeds of people; the former more musical, the latter more technical. If you want to go for the ultimate in technical sound engineering, then you should be looking at broadcast work, preferably live outside broadcasts. Here you will be involved in sound systems that will carry information or entertainment literally to millions. You won't get the chance to say "Sorry, can we take that again?"

Although I am concentrating on recording engineering for this article it's also worth mentioning that there is a growing market for education in musical technology — dealing with synthesizers, samplers, computers and software etc. — and there is also the business side of music. Where would musicians and engineers be without people to run the financial and managerial side of things?

COURSE PROVIDERS



Once you have decided that you really have what it takes to make it in a very competitive field, you have to examine your options. Once upon a time there were very few establishments providing training or education, whereas now there is a reasonable choice. One thing you will find out very early on is that getting information is very difficult. Your local library will have a shelf full of college prospectuses and course directories, but will you find any information on sound engineering or music technology? Only if you are very lucky or very persistent, but give it a go anyway; many colleges are starting up courses, or would like to start them up, and you might find just the one you are looking for by accident. The course providers (a term which I use to cover colleges and private training companies) I have included here are well known and have the ability to get their message across. Some other organisations could do with marketing their wares much more effectively.

There are a number of factors which will narrow down your choice in the very early stages. The first is probably the depth of your pockets. It's a little known fact that education should be regarded as an investment, and if you invest your money then you may reap the reward later. All courses cost money, but those at colleges of further or higher education and universities are subsidised to an extent by a reduction in fees to British or European Community students. You may also be able to get a grant of some kind for certain courses, but in the end your education may limited by what you can personally afford.

The second major factor in narrowing down your choice is that for some reason the fundamental laws of supply and demand do not operate in education. For any other product there will pretty well always be a number of competitive suppliers supplying what people want at prices they are prepared to pay. But if you want an education and are prepared to pay for it you may still have to pass an entrance procedure of some kind, such as an interview or test. You may also have to have existing qualifications such as GCSEs or A levels before you will even be considered for a particular course.

Once you have arrived, through factors unrelated to your lust for knowledge, at a short list of course providers then you can actually do some of the choosing yourself. Do you want a short intensive course on a particular subject, or do you want a longer, more thorough one? These things you can find out easily by looking at prospectuses, but bear in mind that you are not going to learn how to be a recording engineer in a week, or even six weeks for that matter, although every little bit of knowledge can be valuable. When you have whittled the choice down to two or three, then you can look at the establishments and see what quality of education they are offering.

QUALITY OF EDUCATION



"Those that can, do. Those that can't, teach." This is an old saying that has a certain ring of truth to it. For instance, if you were running a recording studio and found it difficult to meet a £500 per week break-even point, then you might well be tempted to run 5-day courses for 10 people paying £50 each. It's easy money isn't it? Similarly, you might be a head of department in a college of further education. You are losing student numbers from your traditional courses and need something more exciting to bring the crowds back in. Maybe you could divert a couple of lecturers from related topics and start up a course in recording engineering? The added benefit would be that you could set up a studio in which you and the other lecturers could play after hours.

Call me a cynic if you like, but I am very sure that attitudes like this secretly exist in the private and public sectors of education. But looking more on the positive side, I feel that people who started with doubtful attitudes have by now either gone to the wall or they have developed a real love for helping people get on in their ambitions. Even so, I would strongly recommend that you try and look for people's motivations, and see whether those who run the course in which you are considering investing part of your life are mainly interested in the profit motive, or running a hobby department, or providing a genuine education in sound engineering.

FACILITIES AND STAFF



I said earlier that of all types of sound engineering, recording engineering is the most difficult to provide a course for. This is because the equipment is so expensive, and you need so much of it, and the facilities have to be spread thinly among all the students on the course. It's all very well for a course provider to claim that they have a state-of-the-art 24-track studio, but if they have to share that among 50 students, how much hands-on time are you going to get? The only way to learn how to record is to do it yourself, so the hands-on time is vitally important. In fact I would go so far as to say that you could divide the course fee by the number of hours spent in the studio, and then by the number of people on the course, and in this way derive a value-for-money rating.

It is common for private companies to offer facilities of a very high standard, but the fees you have to pay are also high. The fees at colleges would be high too, were they not subsidised, but they tend to be hamstrung by lack of funds for investment. Whereas a private company can invest according to current conditions and the return they are making on their capital, a college department probably has to go cap in hand for any cash to equip, or re-equip, to a management that would prefer to encourage courses that don't cost anything like as much to run.

Facilities are important, but of no lesser importance are the staff who are hopefully going to impart their vast knowledge of the subject to you in as interesting a manner as possible. I would recommend any course provider to offer a combination of expertise. There must be input from qualified technical people and from practical types too. If I was told that my lecturers would include people who used to work in manufacturing, ex-sound engineers, and visiting lecturers who are currently employed in the industry, I would be impressed.

WORK EXPERIENCE



If your chosen course offers work experience as well as college-based training then you are in luck. This has to be the best way to learn your future trade. Not only that, but if you impress the people at your work placement then they may be willing to give you a reference when the time comes for job hunting for real. However, work placements are not all fun and games. When I worked as a theatre sound engineer we used to take on trainees for one day a week, and on the whole they were useless. I remember one chap who would bring in his copy of the Daily Mirror and spend all day reading it [all day to read a copy of the Mirror?! — stunned Ed].

Maybe we weren't doing as much as we might have to encourage the students, but we all had jobs to do, and anyway those who were really keen didn't need any encouragement — they found themselves a little niche in the task in hand and got on with it. These exceptional people were rewarded by paid freelance work at evenings, weekends and holidays, and some have gone on to significant achievements.

Unfortunately, work experience in recording studios is difficult to manage, so it is not often offered. The problem is that novices are very conspicuous to the acts and producers using the studio, and studio managers are scared to death of a trainee saying the wrong thing, or putting too many sugars in the coffee, and it is only the most enlightened studio owners and managers who realise the importance of developing keen young talent. If you want to work in a studio, definitely go for a course that can get you into one, preferably a good one. You may have to do menial tasks until you have proved yourself, but how can you prove yourself unless you're on the inside?

THE MODEL STUDENT



When I was a student I was a pain in the neck for the department, and I regret it now. I had the attitude that I knew what I wanted to learn, and I would learn the bare minimum apart from that. I therefore wasted the resources on offer, for which I apologise without reservation. Still, maybe I can make amends by offering my advice, with 20/20 hindsight, on how to get the best out of a course.

The first and most important point I can make is that when you are at college with other students you are, like it or not, a member of a team. The better the team performs, the more you will achieve personally. Put it the other way — if one member of the team slows down, the others will have to slow down too. I find, as a lecturer, that if I feel the group is involved and interested in what I am doing or saying then the whole learning experience is faster and more effective. But if one person decides to take it easy, then another one will, then another, and so on until a sizeable group of people are working well below capacity and wasting time and money.

The second point is that you will probably have a very clear idea of what you want to achieve from the course, and you'll find that your lecturers are asking you to do things or become involved with things that don't fit in with your plans. My advice is to give everything your best shot, even if you never think you'll have a need for that knowledge in the future. Remember that the world changes faster than you think, and that different disciplines are being brought together in unexpected ways. Another aspect of this is that you may have your own strong ideas or feelings on a particular subject. Ideally, your lecturers should use your views as another input to the group, but sometimes they may be so locked into their own way of doing things that they don't understand and are disinclined to listen to what you would like to say. In this situation, put your viewpoint to one side for the moment and try to take in what your lecturer is saying. He may be wrong, but at least you will have gained the advantage of another person's experience.

A FUTURE CAREER?



No college can guarantee a job at the end of their course. Too much depends on personal qualities and level of motivation. But if you are looking for a future career, or if you want to develop new skills to help in your own projects, then it must be a good idea to accelerate your pace of learning by taking advantage of a college or private course. It may be expensive in terms of money and time, but it's an investment for the future. Your enthusiasm and hard work could propel you into a rewarding career in music, recording or sound engineering. Why sit at home dreaming?

Further information

Campus AV, (Contact Details).
Gateway School of Recording, (Contact Details).
The Institute of Music and Technology, (Contact Details).
Media Production Facilities, (Contact Details).
Jewel & Esk Valley College, (Contact Details).
University of Surrey, (Contact Details).
City of Westminster College, (Contact Details).
School Of Sound Recording, (Contact Details).

CAREER POSSIBILITIES

Recording
Public address (music)
Public address (speech and conferences)
Theatre sound
TV and radio
Film
Video
Post-production
Music technology
Maintenance
Music business
Equipment manufacturing
Sales


GRANTS

Education is expensive, but since it can be seen as an investment for the country as a whole, it is often possible to have your fees and expenses paid, and maybe get a small amount to live on as well. If you are accepted on a degree level course then your local education authority will, subject to some limitations, give you a grant which you may top up with a so-called student loan. On other courses, local education authorities may award discretionary grants for which there are limited funds. There are also bodies, typically charitable institutions, who may provide funds for education.

Whatever course you intend to apply for, apply for a local education authority grant as soon as possible. Do not wait until you have been accepted, or they may have run out of funds for discretionary grants. Also, ask the course provider if they know of any grants that are available, and also at the college students' union (if they have one). Details of any other sources of funding should be available in the reference section of your local library.

If you are eligible for Youth Training or Employment Training (those who are should know already) then mention this to the course provider to whom you intend to apply. If a course can be taken on a YT or ET basis then you will be paid to attend your college and work placement.


SCHOOL OF SOUND RECORDING

Established 1984.
Principal: Ian Hu

COURSES

- One-year Certificate Level Course (£50 registration + £30 per week)
- Introduction To Sound Recording (5 days, £172)
- Sampling, Programming and MIDI Workshop (5 days, £172)
- Advanced Multitrack Recording (5 days, £230)

Ian Hu comments: "Our Certificate Level course lasts a year, and covers many aspects of sound including live work, TV sound, and of course studio engineering. We have a digital 24-track, a 16-track, an 8-track, two MIDI programming suites, and a 4-track for learning the basics. We take on a maximum of 50 students every six months, no more, to ensure that everyone gets a fair amount of practical time.

"Students attend two theory lectures a week, but the majority of the time at the school is taken up with practical work giving hands on experience in the studios. 68% of our students find a job in the industry, and ex-students include members of K-Klass, Oceanic, 808 State, Simply Red and Candy Flip."


CITY OF WESTMINSTER COLLEGE

I thought that since I am involved with the City of Westminster College I had better let someone else blow their trumpet, so here's Steve Hepworth, Visiting Lecturer in Sound Engineering...

"Sound Engineering has many facets: recording studios, theatre sound design and operation, broadcast, video and film, location recording and of course the trusty (not always rock'n'roll) world of PA installation, not forgetting audio maintenance engineers and acousticians. It is true to say that sound engineers tend to work in their own very specialised fields. The City of Westminster College has been giving opportunities to budding sound engineers since 1981, and with the help of the ABTT (Association of British Theatre Technicians), strong links have been established within the audio industry.

"To my knowledge there are three main reasons why the sound courses at the CoWC are so successful: "Firstly, the Full Time course is geared to establish an awareness and technical knowledge in all different areas of Sound Engineering: analogue recording, digital techniques, sound systems, audio electronics, acoustics, and of course that indefinable capability and confidence to know when and why something sounds right.

"Secondly, this knowledge needs to be enhanced with experience, by actually working within the industry. Work placements at the likes of Britannia Row, the Royal Opera House, Air Recording Studios and Autograph, to name-drop but a few, are offered to students, giving an opportunity to directly assist sound engineers working at the highest level in a truly professional environment.

"Thirdly, the college itself is situated bang in the centre of London on the doorstep of some of the world's premier audio facilities, theatres, hire companies, and studios.

Students working at the City of Westminster College's 'megastudio' — the biggest portastudio in the world, incorporating a Soundcraft Spirit Studio mixing console, Revox C278, Revox PR99 Mk III and full patchbay.


"Celebrating the recent 10th anniversary of the Full Time Sound Engineering course, the College opened a new sound lab with equipment geared towards the modern recording studio. Cheetah Music and Audio Technica helped enormously by supplying some of their top of the range hardware. It must be pointed out that if you are simply looking for a course to turn you into a 'Hi-flying-sample-seeking-whizz-kid', then this one is definitely not for you!

"There is a selection of part time and full time courses available, all of which culminate in the City and Guilds 182 Certificate in Sound Engineering (which is only offered at the CoWC), a qualification with established credibility worldwide; indeed many overseas students have enrolled over the years. All of the sound courses at the City of Westminster College offer fantastic opportunities to the right people, but always remember that commitment and dedication are the essential ingredients for success in anything you do, the bottom line being the more you put in the more you will definitely get out."

COURSES

- Sound Engineering (1 year)
- Sound Engineering (3 years day release)
- Sound Engineering (YT — 3 years day release)

All courses lead to the City & Guilds 182 examinations Parts 1 and 2.


SCHOOL OF AUDIO ENGINEERING

Established 1977
Director: Tom Misner
General Manager SAE London: Sharon Quinn

COURSES

- Audio Engineer Diploma (15 months)
- Audio & Broadcast Assistant (5 months)
- Tonmeister (12 months)
- Live Sound (3 months)
- Production (post graduate, 3 months)
- MIDI (Weekend)

Diploma awarded on the basis of 90% attendance record, pass result in all examinations, satisfactory completion of practical exercises, and final thesis.

EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

SAE London Studio 1

Neve VR with Recall, updated to Flying Faders 1992
Saturn 24-track
JVC 3700 DAT
Lexicon and Yamaha reverbs
Klark Teknik graphic
Urei 1178
BSS compressors
Drawmer gates
Art Multiverb Alpha
TC 2120
Akai S1000
Atari 1040ST
Steinberg Cubase + Midex
JBL 4430 and Yamaha NS 10 monitoring
Beyer, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure and Audio Technica mics

Also Studio 2 (recording/mixdown) and Studio 3 (mixdown).

FEES

£220 per month for Audio Engineer diploma course plus £130 registration.
Local Authority grants may be available.


Sharon Quinn comments: "SAE was founded by engineer/producer Tom Misner in 1977 and has since grown to a network of 16 colleges in Europe, Asia and Australia. The basic philosophy of the SAE training is to give students a solid theoretical background and individual 'hands-on' practical studio time. From a small 8-track studio SAE grew to its current situation of having 48 recording studios with many large mixing consoles, including 11 Neve VRs, some with Flying Faders, and many additional practical workstations.

"All our teachers are specially trained for teaching and have practical studio experience. In addition to our regular lecturers and supervisors we call upon a number of freelance lecturers who instruct special topics within our curriculum: Mick Anthony at the Town and Country Club; operation of the Lexicon Opus from Adrian Caroll at Silk Sound; the Synclavier at New England Digital; the AMS AudioFile at the Digital Editing Suite; Post Production at GLN Productions; Mastering techniques at the Townhouse and Chop-Em-Out, to name a few.

"All our equipment is for the exclusive use of our students. There is no restriction placed upon the amount of practical time a student may have during the course. All studios and workstations are made available to the students from 10am to 10pm Monday to Thursday and 10am to 6pm Friday and Saturday."


CAMPUS AV

Established 1990
Head of courses: David Pope

COURSES

- Sound Engineering (12 weeks)
- Music Recording Introduction (3 days)
- Music Recording Operational (5 days)
- Dance Mixing (3 days)
- Digital Audio Technology Part 1 (2 days)
- Digital Audio Technology Part 2 (3 days)
- Audio for Video & Film (5 days)
- Video Camera Operation (3 days)
- Video Editing (3 days)

Diploma awarded based on results achieved in weekly tests and continuous assessment.

EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

Courses are held at the University of Surrey
- Neve V Series 32 channel mixing console
- Necam 96 automated fader system
- Saturn 24-track
- 24 channels Dolby SR noise reduction
- MCI 16-track
- Studer 2-track
- Sony digital editing system
- Two Sony PCM 3402
- Tascam DAT machines
- Akai samplers
- Akai MIDI patch system
- Yamaha reverbs
- AMS reverb
- Atari + sequencer software
- Roland D50 synthesizer
- Korg M1 synthesizer
- AKG, Neumann, Shure, Calrec, B&K, Schoeps mics

FEES

£1,200 for one month course
£3,200 for three month course

David Pope comments: "We aim for a minimum of 50% hands-on content in the operationally biased courses such as Sound Engineering. The practicals are also supported by 'tutorials'; students can decide whether the tutorial becomes practical or theoretical.

"For the 12-week Summer course, we use a total of 25 lecturers. Five of these are the core lecturers and cover the basic framework of the course. The remaining 20 are chosen to speak on specialist subjects. Being leaders in their particular field, this ensures that the course is kept completely up to date with the latest techniques and technology.

"Our aim is to teach 'Sound Engineering' in its broadest sense. The fundamental principles apply equally to sound engineering for PA, Theatre, Audio for Video and Film, Music Recording, Classical and Pop, Broadcast. The knowledge acquired by our students is valid for many different applications. We lay the foundations and then introduce students to the many different areas. A student may start the course with a vague interest in music recording and finish with a passionate interest in sound for film. It is our intention to expand the options open to students, thereby increasing job prospects."


UNIVERSITY OF SURREY

Running courses since 1970
Head of course: David Fisher

COURSE

- B. Mus (Tonmeister) in Music and Sound Recording

Entrance requirements are normally A levels in Music, Physics and Maths. Most successful candidates have instrumental competence to Grade 7 or 8. The course is certificated by University degree examination.

EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

- Neve V Series 32-channel mixing console
- Necam 96 automated fader system Saturn 24-track
- 24 channels Dolby SR noise reduction
- MCI 16-track
- Studer 2-track
- Sony digital editing system
- Two Sony PCM 3402
- Tascam DAT machines
- Akai samplers
- Akai MIDI patch system
- Yamaha reverbs
- AMS reverb
- Atari sequencer software
- Roland D50 synthesizer
- Korg M1 synthesizer
- AKG, Neumann, Shure, Calrec, B&K, Schoeps mics

FEES

£2,650 home
£6,685 overseas

David Fisher comments: "A principal aim is to combine the academic study of music with performance training, composition and, in the case of the Tonmeister course, with sound recording. The department has pioneered the teaching of recording as part of a degree course in music. Departmental concerts of 20th century music have consistently attracted acclaim from the national press, as well as providing valuable experience for students in performance and recording.

"Tonmeister students spend the third year of the course away from the University, working in selected recording or broadcasting studios or in other professional sound establishments. This Industrial Year is an integral and vital part of the course. A major objective of this training is to help students relate their University studies to industry and the recording business, and to give them the opportunity of developing their practical skills alongside professionals who are already experts in their field. It also allows industry to assess students at first hand."


INSTITUTE OF MUSIC TECHNOLOGY

Running courses since 1989
Head of courses: Phil McDonnell

COURSES

- Vocational Sound Engineering (1 year day release) £29 + VAT/week
- Vocational Sound Engineering (condensed 5 week course) £490 + VAT
- Vocational Music Technology (1 year day release) £29 + VAT/week
- Vocational Music Technology (condensed 5-week course) £490 + VAT
- An Introduction to Music Technology (5 days) £145 + VAT
- Maintenance Engineering (1 year day release) £1,900 + VAT
- Maintenance Engineering (5-week condensed course) £950 + VAT
- Introductory Sound Engineering Course (5 days) £145 + VAT
- Sound Engineering (1 month, 3 days per week) £345 + VAT
- The MIDI Week £145 + VAT
- One month Music Technology course. £348 + VAT

The Institute of Music and Technology was started by Phil McDonnell, a musician involved in education at GCSE level who saw the need for training programs for people who were unemployed or on low incomes. The first course was Sound Engineering, which was made available on Youth Training and Employment Training schemes, leading to City & Guilds of London Institute certificates (C&G codes 2337 and 2338).

The courses are held in a studio environment in a 24-track studio or MIDI pre-production suite with large areas for acoustic work with mics. There is a 32-channel Soundtracs desk with automation, mastering is to Sony DTC1000ES and Revox PR99. Monitoring is by Urei, and there are the usual Roland, Yamaha and Korg keyboards together with Atari computers running Cubase, Notator and other software.

With groups limited to six or seven, most of the time is hands on. The way the qualifications work, there is no written element. Assessments are based on observable competences, with verbal questions posed while the activities are being performed.

Work placements include Soho Studios, Britannia Row, Kiss FM and Vons.


JEWEL AND ESK VALLEY COLLEGE

Higher National Diploma in Modern Musicianship
Head of Courses: Adam Armit

Adam Armit comments: "Jewel and Esk Valley College was one of the first educational establishments in Britain to organise courses in rock music, having begun in 1985 with the National Certificate in Practical Music. This led in 1990 to the one year HNC, and 1991 saw the launch of the HND in Modern Musicianship.

"To gain entry to the course, students are auditioned on vocals, guitar, bass guitar, drums, or keyboards. Although rudiments are studied within the course, there is no requirement to read music for auditioning students; rather the college is much more interested in innate musical ability.

"On entering the course, students receive instruction on their main instrument and on a second instrument of their choice. Each student must form a group with others playing whatever kind of music they choose, and these groups are encouraged and assisted in setting up gigs throughout Scotland. In addition to performance studies, students are instructed in composition and arranging, MIDI sequencing and programming, audio for video, recording techniques — the college has a well equipped 16-track studio with a TAC scorpion desk — sound reinforcement and acoustics. The industry side is well represented, with units in music business law, marketing for music, promotion of image (graphics, video and photography), and business finance. The course is structured in order that a student may pursue any of the three areas — performance, technology or business — to a more specialised level in the second year.

"As the college is situated in Edinburgh, it has been able to develop good links with the Scottish Music Industry. Many industry figures have volunteered active support for the course, including Fish, Runrig, and The Chimes. Edinburgh has many outlets available to young bands, and the college groups have a number of regular gigs open to them. In addition, the college has active exchange links with Holland, Italy, Russia and Eastern Europe."


MEDIA PRODUCTION FACILITIES

Running courses since 1985
Head of Media Training: Paul Halpin
Audio Courses Director: Simon Skolfield

COURSES

- Introduction to Sound Recording and Mixing (1 week)
- Sound Recording and Production (8 weeks)
- Analogue Sound Recording and Production (3 months)
- Digital Sound Recording and Production (3 months)
- Creative Music Recording and Production (3 months)
(The above three courses combine to form the 1-year full time course.)
- Audio Production and Post-Production for TV/Video (1 week and 6 weeks).
Certificate awarded on the basis of 50% exam, 50% weekly assessment.

EQUIPMENT AND FACILITIES

Amek Mozart 32-channel mixing console with automation
Otari 24-track with autolocator
Otari 2-track
Sony F1 and DAT
Atari ST with C-Lab, Steinberg and Dr. T software
MIDI and SMPTE/EBU timecode facilities
Numerous digital and analogue processors
Neumann, Beyer, AKG, Sennheiser, Shure mics
Akai S1000
Yamaha DX7 II FD
Yamaha DX5
Roland D550
Other synthesizers
Digital audio programming suite

FEES

(add £35 to £85 registration fee, plus VAT)
1 week introduction £275
8 weeks £1,650
3 months £2,350
1 year £5,600
1 week A/V £500
8 weeks A/V £1,950

Paul Halpin comments: "Hands-on time is around 90% for the Introduction; 75% for the 8-week Sound Recording course; 65% for the 3-month Analogue course; 60% for the digital; 80% for the Creative; 70% for Audio Post Production for TV, 1 week, 60-70% on the 3-month course. Students on the one year course have the advantage of downtime sessions. These constitute pre-booked overnight or weekend sessions in both studio and programming suite which commence from the second (digital) module onwards. Highly popular, these sessions allow students to concentrate on course projects or invite bands in to record. The experience is invaluable, affording the opportunity, on an individual basis, to take charge of sessions and deal with all the attendant highs and lows. There are no unsupervised practical sessions in the audio course schedules apart from the Creative Music Production term in which 40% of the practical time is unsupervised and sessions run for eight hours continuously.

"We employ three lecturers full time. There are six regular lecturers and a pool of 6-10 additional guest lecturers who appear as and when their schedules permit.

"Most students say they want structured, practically biased tuition on equipment comparable to top commercial studios to gain employment as either engineers or in the manufacturing sector. The quality and depth of the theory and extensive contact with high-end progressive technology in addition to the small overall numbers on Media courses are geared to producing a high level of technical skills and practical ability.

"E-Zee studios have agreed to take two students on completion of the one year course. Otherwise, we second students to freelance engineers as assistants for commercial sessions, both in-house and at other facilities."


GATEWAY SCHOOL OF RECORDING

Running courses since 1984
Head of courses: Dave Ward

COURSES

Higher Education Diploma in Music Technology, Recording and Music Business Studies.
- One Month Full Time Recording Course (£900 + VAT)
- The Essentials of Sound Recording (1 week, £260 + VAT)
- The Essentials of Multitrack Recording (1 week, £260 + VAT)
- The Essentials of PA Engineering (1 week, £260 + VAT)
- MIDI Weekend Workshop (£120 + VAT) Software orientation weekends (£120 +VAT)
- Rhythm Programming (1 and 3 weekends, £141 + VAT per weekend)
- The Essentials of MIDI and Sequencing (1 week, £120 +VAT)
- Analogue and Digital Synthesis (1 week, £260 + VAT)

Dave Ward comments: "Gateway is a completely independent organisation that lives on the campus of Kingston Polytechnic. Kingston Polytechnic School of Music have their own music degree courses which are mainly classically based. They have an option where people can take Music Technology, and Gateway staff teach all the music technology components of the degree courses. On the Gateway side, our private courses are accredited by Kingston Polytechnic for a Higher Education Certificate. On the shorter courses students get a certificate to say that they have successfully completed the course.

"We have one 24-track recording studio which works as a professional studio, one 24-track teaching facility, four 16-track teaching facilities, one 8-track teaching facility and six pre-production suites. Hands-on time depends on the student; all our courses are structured so that they are 50% theoretical and 50% experience. Out of the contact time with the teachers, many of whom are actually working professionals, half of that will be guided practical work on the equipment, then all the facilities are available for the students to book to do the various projects that they are set. We never have more than 12 people in one class.

"I don't know of anywhere else in the world, other than Surrey University, where students get to mic up a symphony orchestra or a choir. The orchestras rehearse in our studio so our students can get experience doing that."


POP GOES TO COLLEGE

One of the most difficult parts of getting an education is finding out which colleges and private companies offer the type of course you want. Help is to hand with a new book called Pop Goes to College which is a directory of many of the courses available for modern music and recording. The book lists Performance, Music Technology (including sound engineering) and Music Business courses, and also recreational courses and summer schools. Highly recommended reading.

The book is published by WIRED (World Initiative for Rock and Recording Education) and available for £10 from Rock School Ltd, (Contact Details).


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Hands On: Moog MiniMoog

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MIDI: Past, Present & Future


Sound On Sound - Copyright: SOS Publications Ltd.
The contents of this magazine are re-published here with the kind permission of SOS Publications Ltd.

 

Sound On Sound - Jun 1992

Feature by David Mellor

Previous article in this issue:

> Hands On: Moog MiniMoog

Next article in this issue:

> MIDI: Past, Present & Future...


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