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Choosing a recording school, Really Need Help !

Discussion in 'Pro Audio Equipment' started by dimefreak, Sep 15, 2001.

  1. dimefreak

    dimefreak Guest

    I'm trying to choose a recording school to go to in the next few months but I live in India so I have nothing much to go by except for the websites of the schools. I want to go to a good school with great equipment, faculty, internship and placements. Cost is not really the factor, cause I can try for financial aid (I'm a U.S. citizen). I was really impressed with Fullsail, Ex'pression for New Media, Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences, and Los Angeles Recording Workshop. I know that the length of the course in the first 2 is about double the length of the course in the second 2. Does this extra training in the first 2 make a lot of difference ? Is anyone here a graduate or a student of any of these schools or any other good schools ? I really need suggestions and help because no one here knows anything about recording schools. Thank you so much.
     
  2. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    I would recommend that you look at a school in a major market, then Day 1, hit the bricks and try to get a "piss boy" gig at a real studio. Go to school enough to learn some of the 'rudiments' of the stuff you see happening around you at the gig... and work your balls off at that gig, even if it's just fetching coffee and scrubing toilets.

    Read whatever textbook(s) they use at the school, apply whatever you can get from the school at your place of employment.

    If your plans are to stay in the US after graduation, then you'll have some contacts. If you plan on returning to India after graduation, you'll at least have some "real world" experience which is a hell of a lot better than the isolated mythical kingdom described at some of these schools.

    If you're thinking of doing 'film sound' as opposed to 'making records', then the LA thing is the best way to go. If you're going to try and get into the 'making records' thing...then any of the "big 4" cites [NY, LA, Nashville, Miami] will be your best bet.

    Good luck.
     
  3. dimefreak

    dimefreak Guest

    Thanks Fletcher. I might eventually come back to India but I would definitely want to work in america for a few years. I want to work with music and records more than film. Did you mean get a job in a studio while studying and did you mean go to a school in one of those 4 big cities ?
    If you did I guess all of them except Los Angeles Recording Workshop would be out.
     
  4. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Originally posted by dimefreak:
    Did you mean get a job in a studio while studying

    Yes, that's exactly what I meant. If you're going to do this, and try to do it right, forget about sleep, forget about "going drinking with the guys" and immerse yourself in it. There will be plenty of time for sleep later, like when you have a career and are billing over $1000/day.

    Until then, you work your balls off...if you really wanna do this. If you wanna play ^#$% around and feel like you're "special", cool. But that isn't the discipline that leads to a career.

    and did you mean go to a school in one of those 4 big cities ?

    OK...you are on your way now...you can extract the implied message when it's spelled out. That's good. None of these "schools" ever teach "Session Psychology". Especially the part of extracting what someone actually means when they say something.

    There is often a ton of $*^t going on below the surface that you can't see or have any idea exists until you are either a direct, long term, part of it, or have seen a few thousand times and can recognize what's going on.

    If you did I guess all of them except Los Angeles Recording Workshop would be out.

    OK,here's how we eliminate that one too...most of the graduates I've met from that program suck. They have an attitude like their $*^t doesn't stink (which it may not...but as someone in my control room...the vast majority of their graduates do).

    Here are a couple of ideas. Do not take these as an endorsement of any of these programs, but they seem to turn out a relatively decent product.

    USC [or UCLA, one of those CA state schools]. It seems to attract some of the cream of this business to do classes there. From technical to "in the chair". A bunch of years ago I was in helLA and was able to audit a class taught by Bruce Swedien. That day George Massenburg came out to show how his automation package worked, the class was held at 'Record One' in Sherman Oaks.

    The University of Miami is reputed to have a pretty good program. From what I understand, it emphasizes the 'theoretical' parts of what it is we do, you kinda learn the shortcuts and techniques on your own...but you get the "why it works" part there.

    MTSU (Middle Tennessee State University) in lovely Murfreesboro, TN. Surrounded by rolling hills and a pretty mediocre football team by 'Southern College Standards', the school is about 30 miles outside of Nashville. The people that I've met that have come out of that program know their $*^t. Some of them have had an attitude, but not many and it was quite easy to wipe that smirk off their face without them getting all pissy.

    Now New York...that's a tough call. The good thing is there are a million studios all within 10 miles of each other. If they ever get the 1 & 9 train working again, they'll be a lot easier to get to. As for schools...there isn't a whole lot that turns out a product that doesn't scream to be on the buisness end of a chainsaw. The only two I really know about there are IAR (Institute of Audio Reasearch) and SAE.

    IAR has been running hot and cold for a couple of decades. It's turned out some pretty good people on both an operational and technical level. It's turned out some real assholes. As always, it depends on the individual.

    SAE is a chain of schools around the world. A fairly brilliant idea on how to separate unsuspecting kids from their parents money, I've never met an SAE graduate that lasted a full day on one of my sessions. Now, that doesn't mean that some of their people haven't gone on to do something, if just means I've never met one.

    The thing with any school, anywhere in the world, for any subject is that you get out of it what you put into it. As you progress, it's good to feel yourself grow, and it's good to realize that you are beginning to understand the 'rudiments' of your chosen profession. Even if you're a "top student", you still don't know jack $*^t when you get out. You may have an idea of signal flow, but you have zero idea how real sessions work.

    This "schooling" is a preparatory for the real world. By working in the 'real world' while you're going to school, even if it's only as a runner for minimum wage, you're going to be so far ahead of your classmates it's ridiculous.

    First, you'll already have a foot in the door and have made a couple of contacts. Second, you'll already have learned a good portion of the 'shut the ^#$% up and observe' portion of the program. In school, you're often encouraged to 'ask questions'...in a real control room, nobody gives a ^#$% that you're alive until you screw up...and right around then you will start to understand pretty well how 'worm $*^t' feels.

    If you survive a couple years of doing school and gigging then you're on the way. BTW, think about who is teaching you at a school...usually it's either someone who couldn't cut it in the 'real world', or decided to drop out of the 'real world' in an effort to attain something that resembled a "normal" life.

    Me, I don't teach, I'm a weasel during the week, though I still do some 'demo $*^t' on the occasional nights and weekends, it's mostly because I need to evaluate some hardware for the store. I got 'out' to try to attain the 'normal' thing. I've gotten relatively close, but two of my three immediate neighbors, won't talk to me (which isn't necessarily a bad thing).

    If you go to school, go to school. What I mean by that is that anything less than perfect, is wrong. There are no prizes for second place in this game. An 'A' is what is expected. 100% at all times will get you on the road. The point of throwing your money away at one of these joints is to learn the trade. It's a fairly complex one, there are so many facets to it, and more coming everyday.

    So, when presented with a theory, you learn it inside and out. When presented with a technique, you learn it, and the variations of it. This way when you see it misapplied in the real world [most of the time it is intentionally misapplied, so shut the ^#$% up and keep watching], you'll hear the difference between 'textbook' and 'battle field'.

    I have less than no idea what a 'Blumlein Pair' is, or 'ORTF' micing techniques...but I'll bet you I've used them a few thousand times each. Then again, the books I've read were because I didn't understand what I saw in sessions...I came up in the days before they had schools advertising their services in 'Rolling Stone'.

    In alot of ways it was a hell of a lot easier then. You worked like an underpaid slave, the perks were "all the $*^t you can eat", and if you came out the other side you had a career. If you didn't, you're probably working as an insurance salesman and waxing poetic of your days in the music biz with your neighbors over a glass of 'Gallo Sauvingon Blanc'.

    Good luck, you're gonna need it.
     
  5. dimefreak

    dimefreak Guest

    Thanks for the insight Fletcher. These are things that I would really have no idea about just checking out websites of the schools. I've checked out USC, University of Miami and John Hopkins Univrsity (even though its not near one of the big cities), all through their websites. All of these colleges have 4 year bachelor degrees . There are 2 reasons that I don't want to do these:

    1) The cost of a four year bachelors degree would be way above me.
    2) I am going to be graduating with a 4 year Bachelors in Computer Engineering in another 2 months and I really don't want to do another 4 year degree.

    I saw the equipment that the 2nd 2 universities had (I couldn't find a mention of it in USC's website)and it didn't seem as good as the equipment in the recording schools but I guess the teaching would be better in the universities. The UCLA Extension has a 1 1/2 year course but they didn't mention anything about their teachers, the equipment that they have and they have no internship. One thing that really impressed me about Fullsail was their list of success stories. For example, 75 of their grads have worked on 60 albums in the Billboard top 200.

    I thought of one more option. SAE has a newly opened branch in India. The cost of the 7 months course here is not too much. Its about the equivalent of $2000. I could do a course here and then come to a recording school in America, so that I would have some hands on experience here. That way I could make the most out of the classes and try to work at the same time. Another thing that I could do is to try to get in the masters degree program at John Hopkins University or University of Miami if they are good. I might be eligible because I would then have a bachelors degree in computer engineering and a diploma in sound from SAE. The cost of this would be extremely high but it might be worth it if these programs are really good. The only thing about SAE is that they don't have that much equipment. They have an analog studio with a Mackie console and a digital studio with a Yamaha O2R, 2 computers(with Pro Tools and Cubase)and recording and processing stuff. The teachers there are also fairly new to the industry.
    Another option is that I could become an apprentice in a studio here for I few months before coming to a recording school in America. This shouldn't be too difficult to do because I have some friends who are musicians and producers who know a lot of people in studios in town.
    What are yor opinions and suggestions ? I hope that I am not asking too many questions ? Thanks a lot.
     
  6. Bob Olhsson

    Bob Olhsson Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2001
    Location:
    Nashville TN
    Home Page:
    The ONLY legitimate way to judge a school (or a teacher) is by the quality of engineer it produces.

    Gear is totally irrelevant except that familiarity with older gear will probably help you more than familiarity with the latest.
     
  7. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    I've had considerable contact with students from Full Sail and Institute of Audio Research through my job as a studio tech in New York. I often had to try to provide some guidance or whatever to graduates of these schools when they became interns at several studios that I used to work at. I found graduates of both schools to be willing and intelligent but the Full Sail graduates had received a much more comprehensive training in my opinion. The I.A.R. course seems too short to give you a good background I think. If you just want to pick up some basics and hit the street to learn from the school of hard knocks I.A.R. might serve you well but I think Full Sail is more of a real education and I'm sure that Fletchers recommendations for actual University training are good also. I conduct a part time class here in Japan at a music school recording studio and once again this is a very comprehensive program. These kids learn on SSL consoles in very professionally equipped studios and it is a three year program.
    They really enjoyed the "Three Mic Drum Mic'ing Thechnique" by the way. All were surprised at how good the drums sounded.
     
  8. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Originally posted by dimefreak:

    1) The cost of a four year bachelors degree would be way above me.


    Who said anything about getting a 'degree'? I was talking about taking classes to supplement what you're learning "on the job". A 4 year degree in 'recording engineering' is about as useful as a 4 year degree in 'waste management'.


    2) I am going to be graduating with a 4 year Bachelors in Computer Engineering in another 2 months and I really don't want to do another 4 year degree.

    I don't blame you.

    I saw the equipment that the 2nd 2 universities had (I couldn't find a mention of it in USC's website)and it didn't seem as good as the equipment in the recording schools but I guess the teaching would be better in the universities.

    Bingo!! Your first gig, nobody gives a ^#$% if you can run an SSL, they care that you get the trash can liner into the can before somebody throws an apple in the can. Your first gig, they don't care if you can run Pro-Tools, they care if their lunch shows up cold. Are you with me here?

    Equipment, technology, tools, they change on a constant basis. You will find that things like microphone selection and positioning techniques are far more important to your career growth than learning the command sequence required to restart a mix 2 bars into the 3rd Chorus with an 'offline' fader move on the backing vocals bringing them up .6db until the 'chorus out' where you want them up .8db from where they are now, and 'autofade' at 4:12 for 19 seconds.

    It ain't the meat it's the motion, it ain't the tools, it's the mechanic. Any of this making sense?

    The UCLA Extension has a 1 1/2 year course but they didn't mention anything about their teachers, the equipment that they have and they have no internship. One thing that really impressed me about Fullsail was their list of success stories. For example, 75 of their grads have worked on 60 albums in the Billboard top 200.

    75 of their grads have worked on 60 albums in the Billboard top 200. Out of how many students? 10,000? 20,000? That place has been around 20+ years, and that's all they can come up with? If that impresses you, you need to reevaluate your level of impession.

    I have 15 or so gold and platinum plaques hanging on the wall, so ^#$%ing what? I didn't graduate from any of these programs. Other than making a nice decoration for the office walls, they aren't worth $*^t.

    I thought of one more option. SAE has a newly opened branch in India. The cost of the 7 months course here is not too much. Its about the equivalent of $2000. I could do a course here and then come to a recording school in America, so that I would have some hands on experience here.

    Dude, give me the $2,000 and I'll let you hang around for 7 months...maybe even teach you some theory.


    That way I could make the most out of the classes and try to work at the same time.

    How about skipping the whole school adventure, and just get a piss boy gig, an use your computer degree to do some 'side work' so you can pay the rent. Just a thought.


    Another thing that I could do is to try to get in the masters degree program at John Hopkins University or University of Miami if they are good.

    George Massenburg would know more about Johns Hopkins than I would, he went there. I believe he dropped out, but that doesn't seem to have done his engineering career and injury. The University of Miami is an excellent place to learn theory. There are 200 studios in the Miami area where you can put those theories into practice.

    Of all the suggestions you've made for your life/career in this thread, the U of Miami one seems the most intelligent [to me]...there is the added bonus of very inexpensive and good quality drugs in Miami, coupled with some most fine looking women. Of course if you are committed to what you're doing, you'll have time for neither, but just knowing they're around will sometimes be helpful.

    I might be eligible because I would then have a bachelors degree in computer engineering and a diploma in sound from SAE. The cost of this would be extremely high but it might be worth it if these programs are really good. The only thing about SAE is that they don't have that much equipment.

    Unless I'm not understanding something, you don't need a lot of equipment at this point. You need to learn how to listen. We can all hear, but "listening" is an aquired skill. One they can't teach you with equipment, one you can only learn by experience.

    You're falling into the equipment 'penis envy' trap. Cut it the ^#$% out, it'll get you nowhere.

    They have an analog studio with a Mackie console and a digital studio with a Yamaha O2R, 2 computers(with Pro Tools and Cubase)and recording and processing stuff. The teachers there are also fairly new to the industry.

    In other words...the teachers there took the course 6 weeks ahead of you and couldn't find their ass with a roadmap and a funnel. Why ^#$%ing bother?

    Another option is that I could become an apprentice in a studio here for I few months before coming to a recording school in America.

    Bro, "recording school in America" isn't any form of salvation. It's not the answer to getting a gig, it's not the answer to knowing what the ^#$% you're doing. It's 3/4's a place to hide for a few months while trying to learn from people that can't get gigs so you can go out into the world beyond and scrub some ^#$%ing toilets.

    Newsflash!!! You're not going to be sitting in the chair because you have a piece of paper that says you finished a course in "recording". You're going to get your ass into the 'comfy chair' (or the hot seat depending on the gig) by working your balls off and earning the chair...that and being in the right place at the right time when somebody calls in sick or dead, then handling the gig like a professional. Ain't no school going to give you those skills. Not in this, nor any other lifetime.


    This shouldn't be too difficult to do because I have some friends who are musicians and producers who know a lot of people in studios in town.

    Great, get a gig there, take a year, learn what you can from them, then move here and apply a mop to the floor and fetch lunch. You'll move up faster if you have a bit of experience. I would recommend just moving here and hitting the bricks to find a gig, but it's your life and career. I've already ^#$%ed up my life and career, you should at very least be afforded the same opportunity (I stayed in an "outmarket" instead of moving to a major market...it's a long story, and frankly I'm not sorry for the decision...but it has been a 'career impediment' to say the least).


    What are yor opinions and suggestions ?
    I think I've answered most of that...

    I hope that I am not asking too many questions ?

    You can never ask too many questions. You can ask dumbass questions, but that too is part of the learning experience, and we've all done it, so don't sweat it.

    There are two ways to gain experience, asking questions, then applying the answers and ascertaining the value of the results is one way.

    Just ^#$%ing up sans guidance is the other. Anyway you look at it, there are no shortcuts to gaining experience. It takes time. Period.

    Don't be in a hurry, keep your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. Understand that it's not only what you know, it's who knows what you know. In other words, the greater the amount of contacts you can make while you're learning, the diligence with which you maintain those contacts, as much as the quality of your work will determine whether or not you have a career.

    Best of luck...now, stop reading the 'equipment lists' of these schools, and start asking for 'credit lists' of the instructors. Hardware is just hardware, it's the software that sits in the chair behind the hardware that makes the difference. Machines don't make music, people do.
     
  9. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    If I have to hear a recording school "graduate" tell me they can "run an ssl or neve" one more time I think im going to cut my wrist.

    :)

    As I said to an assistant one time....
    "Theres no CRYING in the recording studio!"

    "Did you drink a 6 pack of dumbass before coming in today? "
     
  10. gtrmac

    gtrmac Guest

    One approach you might consider is to study electronics in school. A background in elctronics engineering, even an associates degree from a technical college will put you several steps up the ladder. Especially in the eyes of any studios which you might seek employment in. This is a more traditional path. There was a time after all when recording engineers were really that, engineers who could tell you how something worked as well as what it did. Another advantage to having a technical background is that you will almost surely get a paycheck from the first day you work in a studio. I have known several engineers who are now sucessful that started as technicians. I worked as a technician and I found that I was able to learn more about the studio and a lot quicker than people who were working as interns. I was getting a lot more information about console operation from block diagrams and schematics than the operators manuals were giving me. I chose after all to continue as a tech because the idea of a 40 hour week with good pay was something i couldn't give up. Besides, i was able to engineer and produce recordings in my spare time in the studios I was working in. the owners were always willing to let a tech work in the room during off hours. i guess they figured that I wasn't going to break anything and if I did I'd fix it.
     
  11. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Dimefreak- Mac Bowne may have just offered you the best bit of advice on this thread. I would pay some serious attention to this thought if I were you.

    Good luck.
     
  12. dimefreak

    dimefreak Guest

    That does sound like a pretty good option but I would eventually want to be more of an engineer. I guess having computer engineering degree (with quite a few electronics subjects) would help me get in a studio as a tech. As far as the courses go, I've seen the site and gotten the catalogue of the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences. The teachers seem to be extremely qualified. There is a description of each of the teachers on the website (in the school and campus section) and each of them have a long list of credentials. Fletcher, when you said that the teachers are extremely important,this looked extremely impressive. Could you please have a look at this site and tell me what you think. The site is http://www.audiorecordingschool.com . I know this school is not a major market (its in Tempe,Arizona)but the course is only about 8 months long after which there is an internship program. They claim that they put you in the major market of your choice for your internship. This might be worth it if you learn from such qualilified instructors. There are also quite a few letters from employers and internship providers, praising particular grads from the college (in the endorsements section)but this is again just a few of the thousands of grads. Another nice feature is that you get a certification from Digidesign that you are a certifiied Pro Tools user and a similar certification from Waves. Again, I don't know if this really helps in the real world. Fullsail hasn't mentioned the profiles of their instructors on their site (the catalogue is yet to come). The only thing is that Fullsails program is about 2000 hours and the Conservatory's course is 900 hours. But then again Fullsail costs about $23,000 and the conservatory costs about $13,000. Fletcher please have a look at the website and tell me what you think. Thanks
     
  13. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2001
    Dimefreak, I went and looked at the site [if I saw the phrase " Most likely you did not choose music as much as music chose you.", I swear I was going to vomit].

    I must say, their instructors seem to have very impressive credentials. Separating the wheat from the chaff, how many of those "credits" are from actually 'sitting in the chair', or 'sitting next to the patchbay'? There really is no way to tell without buying the records and researching the credits.

    I know one of the members of their staff (no, I'm not saying which one), and he has always seemed to me to be quite competent. I've even heard of the school before. A kid that used to live next door to us decided to go there, I use his brother as a backing singer on a lot of projects I do, so as a favor to his brother, I made a call and got him "an internship" in a major facility in a major market.

    I checked up on the kid pretty regularly (I don't often recommend people for gigs that I haven't worked with, but had known the kid to be of excellent character, so I did it anyway). I was told he worked out fine, though he wasn't asked to stay on at the conclusion of his "internship", which meant he either was 'mediocre', or didn't forge the proper relationships during his time at the studio.

    As for Full Pail... :roll: ...what can be said about them that hasn't been said a million times. Many (many!) moons ago I had a room mate that was going through an exceptionally dry spell as an engineer. Another friend of ours had a gig at Full Pail teaching "tech" stuff.

    He somehow got that gig after I got him fired from a place I was working...seems he was so "detail oriented" he wired the master 2-bus outputs out of polarity, and to compensate for this error, wired the feeds to the ^#$%ing monitors 180 out as well!! Real fuckin' "Mensa" candidate...(not).
    Fortunately I work in 'one speaker mono' alot and found the problem before it ^#$%ed up an album I was working on.

    Our friend (don't get me wrong, he was a really affable fella, he was just worthless as a tech) got my room mate (who couldn't buy a gig at the time) a gig teaching at Full Pail. After 3 or 4 weeks he called back to the apartment to say "Hi"... he said he was dying to talk to something resembling an intelligent human being. He taught there for 2 semesters before he couldn't take it any more.

    This, and the fact that I've only met one or two Full Pail graduates that could find their ass without a roadmap and a funnel is my only experience with the joint. Oh, I guess when you get near the end of the program you get to walk around the AES show in dumbass matching shirts, with a copy of your resume...while asking every one with a booth for a gig. Bloody annoying, but I guess that's their version of "networking".

    You can follow any path you choose. Picking a school via a website seems a bit ridiculous to me, but I'm kind of an "anti-rekordin' skool" kinda guy. You know computer science, now learn how audio circuits work, learn music theory, then how to pay attention and not get in the way, pay some dues, and get on with your life...or don't.

    Seriously, try not to be a sap. There are so many of these schools that only exist to get saps to part with their money. It's really easy to get taken in by the 'show business' part of this trade. Here's a news flash for you...this isn't a "glamour gig". It's long hours of hard work and you best not be in a hurry or you're going to be in deep $*^t. Just plan on working your balls off for the next 5-7 years, day in and day out. When you're told to jump, already be in the air when you ask "how high?". If you don't have that kind of commitment, ain't no school in the ^#$%ing world is going to help.

    Best of luck to you in all you do.
     
  14. Bear's Gone Fission

    Bear's Gone Fission Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2001
    Hey, Dime, the Pro-Tools certification and your degree could get you mileage as a computer tech and be your back door into the control room. Enough studios depend on PT or other software and aren't that computer savvy, so you might have something there. Now if this certification is your key credential, why not find out from Digidesign how to get it and from whom? CRAS certainly can't be the only game in town for this, although it could provide more of the complete picture you want.

    Good luck

    Bear
     

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