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Need some input

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by DonnyThompson, Sep 15, 2016.

  1. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Hi gang.
    This past summer, I had the opportunity to visit The Chautauqua Institute in New York. I was there a few times, once for a weekend, and then once for a whole week. The Institute is a vibrant community of artists; it's kinda like a sort of Disneyland for the Liberal Arts. Music is everywhere, and of all styles. Many are students from abroad who are honing their craft; there are classes and seminars, along with a fantastic lecture series and concert schedule, the access to any of which is included with your weekend or week long paid pass. There is a gorgeous amphitheater in the middle of the enclave, where lectures and concerts are given. In any given week, you can attend lectures featuring historical figures, watch a choral concert from some of the finest groups in the world, listen to solo artists play and discuss music, or watch a full-blown concert from some amazing acts. The full week I was there, Wynton Marsellas was there with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra; and two nights later, I saw Mary Chapin Carpenter performing with her band as well.

    It occurred to me that many of the students there probably had their own computers in their rooms; and that some of those students were likely trying to record their own music... So I thought that perhaps offering a week long class in basic recording instruction might be something I could do for the 2017 summer season.
    I'm trying to figure out how to submit this course idea/outline to the course committee there; and I was hoping that my pals here on RO might be able to offer some advice on this.

    The thing I have to remember is that the people who may be interested in attending this course are musicians FIRST. These are formally trained kids; studying classical, jazz, world/ethnic and even contemporary stuff. So, I have to keep this course aimed with that in mind... I'm not teaching future engineers here, or even EM Composers... I would be teaching musicians on how to best capture their performances on their real instruments to a basic DAW, and how to get best results out of what they have. The general age range of the students is 17-22.
    My thoughts are to cover mic types and mic placement techniques, gain structure, connections/cabling, preamps and interfaces, and a basic overview of the tools used in a DAW.
    I'm thinking about using a very basic and easy to understand DAW program - perhaps something like Reason or S1 ? ( I think if I tried to use Samp or PT their heads would pop off, LOL)
    These students would be focusing on recording acoustic instruments, I don't see much need ( or interest on their part) to cover VSTi's. That being said, am I being too quick to exclude VSTi's?

    Also (@Brien Holcombe )... Should I also devote a day on how to temporarily acoustically treat their recording spaces ?)

    I need to submit the course outline ( not a full syllabus yet) to the committee by October 1.
    Does anyone have ANY suggestions on what to focus on with this outline... Or even something I may have missed in regard to something I need to teach in the course? PLEASE. speak up. I wanna hear all ideas!

    ANY suggestions would be greatly appreciated. ;)

    Tagging @audiokid @Sean G , @Kurt Foster , @Boswell , @dvdhawk , @kmetal , @pcrecord , @Davedog , @paulears , @Brien Holcombe , @Chris Perra , @DogsoverLava (if you're not tagged please don't let that stop you from contributing... I want to hear from everyone!! I just happened to tag the members who popped into my head as being the most active here on RO. ;)
    Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated!
    Brother Junk and Brien Holcombe like this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    17 to 22s won't need much help with computers and softwares.
    I guess something like 'Foundation of audio recording' maybe of interest to them ;
    A course where you present the all aspect of the recording chain. Room, instrument, mic and placement, preamps and converters. Add some info on phase Relationship, intro on mixing and mastering and you got a great program don't you think ?
    Brother Junk and kmetal like this.
  3. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I think thats a good idea Donny...I think with the way audio is more accessible to the masses in the digital age, and considering those that usually take recording up as a hobby are those who generally play music and want to capture what they create. Given your time in the game, as a musician, as a studio owner and someone who has consulted to the home studio owner in the past I think its something that you would be very suited to and this would be right up your alley.

    My advice would be to approach it from the perspective of those who would take up such a course....

    - What would they want / need to take away from it to give them the know-how to be able to capture their own music?

    So here are a few things I think may be relevant

    1 - DAW - The "what is" & "how to". A basic understanding of how to navigate your way through a DAW, basic use of the features to record basic tracks.

    2 - Interface - again the "what is & "how to"...how this connects to your pc / DAW and the basic understanding and functions of use.

    3 - Microphones & Cables / Pre Amps - We get many questions here from newcomers to recording and I think knowing things like mic types, mic technique & placement would be a good start.

    4 - Acoustic treatment - The basics & why this is important.

    5- Capturing / Recording - How to capture your recording...from the DAW perpective, gain staging, using click tracks, punching in, etc

    6- Mixing - Setting mix levels, how to on plug-ins and what plug-in to use for what purpose (EQ, comp. etc), LUFS levels in mixing

    7 - Mastering - A basic overview of what it is, LUFS levels in mastering

    I'm sure there would be many other things you could add...but IMO that would be a good start. I know that if I was starting out and could be shown all this in a week I would come away with a basic understanding of what is needed to capture my own performances. (y)
    pcrecord likes this.
  4. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I agree with Marco there...anything to do with technology and kids at that age in most cases have grown up with it and anything you show them you really only have to show them once...
    - in a short while they would be showing you a thing or two.;)
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    On top of what others suggest, you can surely use RO (free of charge) in what ever way to help promote this. Feel free to ask me, glad to help if I can.



    As Marco pointed out, that age group certainly won't need much help with the computing part but will most certainly need help with everything recording related.
    Interfacing seems to be a big void when it comes to multitracking and stability.

    DAW's used will be the free ones including Ableton , Reaper, Cubase, Sonar. I'm with you on Sam :confused:. That is way too advanced for novice. Pro Tools as well (it is the industry standard) but to my understanding, PT has such bad karma in the new arena, I don't even think I would focus on any DAW in particular.
    I would focus on skills that comes from the gifted (what money can't buy) which is experience in microphones, composing, creating real music and how you fit this into the modern world today, how you go about it from one track at a time to old school performance where a few mics and a real band sounds. How to faux it all together as well. You have a lot to offer.

    hope some of these idea's help.
  6. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I agree w all of the above. Reaper is probably the best daw imho for that or studio one since they are cross platform and freely available.

    I also wouldn't underestimate the value of Vst. Especially since the students are into composition midi ochestration is inevitable. For instance avatar used BFD, and mission impossible used VSL (for the mockup) then they re recorded the live orchestra. Sam (while I agree is beyond the scope of a week course) transforms midi directly into standard notation, which could be incredibly useful.

    I think your experience in song structure and composition shouldn't be overlooked D. I think besides the technical aspects of mic placement, and acoustic treatment, songwriting is just as weak a link in an average recording. This is where the experience of a good producer comes in. As a Berkeley grad, it's something my boss always focused on when training is, and during sessions. He's re edited song structure, added artificial harmonies Ect Ect in people's projects.

    When to use a condenser vs dynamic mic could
    Be a good topic. Especially since so many entry level mics tote the 'condenser' banner as if it's superior not just a type.

    Aux/busses seem to be a weak point in a lot of people's technique. Particularly people who can into it digital from the start. I find it difficult to explain to people (routing) becuase there is no point of refernce like 'you know how you plug..' It's like um no..... Lol.

    Compression/limiting/mastering is also a good area. And not just 'don't do it' but actually showing people how to enhance a mix with those tools like an experienced guy would.

    Like the others said the computer stuff the kids will know pretty well.

    I think you'd be good at it D. Best of luck!
  7. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    That's an interesting idea Donny. The Chautauqua area is great! We used to play the big rock club across the lake a lot back in the early 90's. It was a flourishing music scene back then, and although I don't get up that way very often anymore, I believe it is still thriving. As you point out, they're not pigeon-holed into any one genre and near enough to some good-sized cities ( Toronto, Buffalo, Erie, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Rochester, Jamestown etc.) to attract all kinds of talent and an audience.

    I'm sure there would be a percentage of the students who wouldn't know which end was up on a DAW, and those that do, would probably ALL benefit from a session on mic-placement and gain-structure.

    Good idea, and good notes so far. (don't bother trying to teach them how to roll up a cable, you won't have that much time)
  8. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    I like everything suggested so far - Sean's list is pretty good - as I go forward with learning stuff I continue to look at those big topic points. I especially like the idea of on-the-fly acoustic treatment. Think of where these kids might be recording (hotel room, apartment, dorm, exterior...) give them scenarios on how to quickly prep the space for a variety of recording situations - real world imaginative solutions they can adopt quickly.

    Young creative types work fast - open a track and start dropping mics/cutting tracks --- things get pretty cluttered and at some point as projects come together you end up having to go back and clean up/make sense of the mess - and mistakes can happen and work can get lost etc... -- so something that addressed good work processes and workflow that also shows the advantage of good workflow & organization - setup & template strategies that are smart and looking ahead as far as workflow goes - anticipate folders and groupings and mix buses and routing --- even stuff that covers data management (might sound simple but I can't tell you how many times I've heard kids talk about losing 2 years worth of projects/schoolwork/data after a laptop died or got stolen -- even major digital media artists).
    kmetal likes this.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Great advice from everyone. Thanks guys, I knew you'd all come up with great suggestions.

    Initially I thought I'd skip VSTi's, but after what Kyle mentioned, and after further thought, there may be s few students who rely on sampled pianos - the dorm rooms are typical college dorm sizes - so it's not like they'll have an actual piano in there to work with. Once I cover how to set up midi tracks for internal sample triggering, they can then translate that process to any soft synth that they want, should they desire to use sampled strings, brass, drums, etc.

    I'd still like to keep the main focus on mics and real instrument recording though, as most of these students play actual instruments.

    I think the course would be fun; and I'd like to make RO available to them as a resource.
    ( thanks, Chris @audiokid ).

    As to the DAW program to use, I think it's down to Reason or S1, unless someone else has another suggestion. Pat, Samp, and even Sonar are too complex for the beginner, I think. I don't want to bog them down on a DAW program that's so complex tbat it takes half the week for them to figure out how to record a track, or to cover even the most basic of DAW tasks.
    Certainly I'll cover basic processing, such as EQ and GR; what they do, how they work, and when to use them... But again, I don't want to get too complex with them to the point where their eyes are glazing over. Everyone here knows that I could spend a week on EQ alone. The course isn't aimed at those who want to be engineers, it's designed on helping them to record their own material, with the focus on capturing great performances and making music that has decent fidelity. I doubt very highly that any of them are using Millennia preamps with Neumann mics. Most - if not all - are probably using the typical entry level gear. I want them to be able to get the best out of what they have, or, to be able to get started out without flushing their pell grant money dry.

  10. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    S1 Artist is free to download...full functioning with native plug-ins. Its pretty easy to navigate your way around for a beginner.
  11. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    A friend of mine suggested that I may want to add my own accomplishments in the course description as a way to "legitimize" myself... Awards, certifications, producers and engineers I've worked with, etc, ...at which point I'm pretty sure I actually rolled my eyes and winced at the same time. I HATE the idea of doing this, or even hinting at it. If anything, I think I'd much rather mention that I'm a long standing member and regular contributor to RO, teaching alongside some of the finest and most knowledgeable audio experts and colleagues I've ever had the pleasure to know... I'm
    more proud of this than any of my other accomplishments.
    What say you?
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    It sounds a great idea, Donny! I'm sorry I don't have a lot to add at this stage beyond what my esteemed colleagues have already suggested.

    I can, however, mention a similar sort of course I put together several years ago. In that one, I took the first session to deal with the differences between live recording and studio recording. I then went on to handle the live aspects and got a studio engineer pal of mine to take on the studio aspects. I could see some light-bulbs turning on in the heads of the musos who attended when they were presented with the live/studio categorisation that they all had experienced but never thought about in detail.

    If it would help, I for one would be pleased to look over any material that you would like to try out before the course.
  13. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    That would be great Bos. :)
    I'll post the course outline for submission to the committee before I send it in, just to have it proof read by my pals here.
    Getting the course accepted as part of the summer 2017 curriculum is the first hurdle, and that needs to happen before October 1, which is now only a few weeks away (yikes!).
    If it's accepted, I'll have all winter to fine tune the syllabus.
  14. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I for one do not think you have to legitimise yourself Donny...you have the runs on the board with what you have accomplished in your time thus far in the field.

    From the perspective of that of an educator, having a little credibility doesn't hurt though...maybe when you do your intro on who you are and what you have done in your time to bring you to where you are, sharing a few achievements can show your students that you know what you are talking about and your'e not just some guy who has walked in off the street.

    I for one always had a great respect for those who taught me a thing or two, knowing that the knowledge they shared came with a sense of authority because of what they had done or achieved along the way before sharing that knowledge through their own experience.

    When I was first enrolled in audio engineering 25 years ago, the guy who ran our course was an aging hippie from the U.K. who really knew his stuff.
    It wasn't until later towards the end of the course that he invited us to a BBQ at his home, where his wife had let it slip during the course of the night that at one time he had worked with Pink Floyd. Sure enough, his wife went away then out came out a few minutes later with an old photo album and there he was in the studio with the band in his younger days, as an assistant to Alan Parsons.
    As a huge Pink Floyd fan I was absolutely blown away, speechless in fact, and although he was quite a humble fellow, over a few more drinks and a little prodding he shared many stories of his time in audio, his experiences and his achievements along the way, but if it wasn't for his wife we may never have known that little fact of who we were learning from, and who he learned the craft from.

    I often think of him even now 25 years on and the impact having him as an educator had on me...even if I hadn't found out about that little well kept secret of his.
    Either way I couldn't have had a higher respect for him and the things he taught me. He had a huge impact on my love for the craft unto this day and I often think of him with a smile.

    IMO it doesn't hurt to share what you have achieved...even if you are a humble fellow like yourself Donny. ;)
  15. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    It depends if you have to sell the course to a comity... It's sad to have to justify ourself but it is sometime the only way to gain thrust from the school and/or students.
    I bet I wouldn't want a teacher who drives a snow truck without knowing he had some experience in the past ;)

    Yesterday I got a young drummer (in his 20s) who came in to the studio because he needs to strait up his game about playing on time and with a click.
    In an hour, he kept bragging me about what he accomplished the last 10years, how good he was and gave excuses for the last recording session we had with his band. I had no choice to be blunt and tell him : 'Stop the excuses, they don't fix anything. You failed, it's time to get better''
    It was a very hard hour because while he was always fishing to hear he me say he is good, I had to make him realise he's not tight and that going faster on fills and not be on the pocket is some basic stuff you shouldn't exhibit unless your a newb.
    At some point I decided to let him hear a few recording I made and his reaction was to think I wanted to show off....
    I was very happy to have my old TD9 module ready to make him play with the scope, so he could see when he is off. Thank god I had this proof he could see by himself because I was at a feather of being called a bullshitter which I honestly don't think I am...

    The line is very thin between recognition and arrogance.
    kmetal likes this.
  16. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    I agree with you there Marco...but I feel that comes down with the type of person that delivers the message and how that message is delivered.

    Sometimes, like in the case you described you just have to be blunt...even if that goes against the type of person you are. Sometimes its the only way to get the message across because of the attitude of the person who needs to hear it.
    Maybe the guy you had in felt a little intimidated by your ability and experience by the sound of what you described so felt like he had to prove something to you regarding his ability.
    Sounds like he was looking for that reassurance there...maybe he felt insecure about his ability, not uncommon when you are faced with a situation where you have to perform in front of someone whose ability outshines your own...hence the bragging about what he had accomplished in the last 10 years, how good he was, and the excuses for the last session.
    I'm sure the way you handled it was in his best interest to get the best out of him...thats what he is there for, right?...so thats your job in that situation.
    Sometimes a dose of reality is the best thing for you under the circumstance, it makes you take stock and lift your game a little, making you dig deep and gets you out of your comfort zone.

    In Donnys' case, anyone who knows Donny from here on RO knows the type of person he is. He doesn't like to blow his own trumpet.

    Donny is the type of guy that if not for the Pacific Ocean seperating us, I'd love to just hang out with him to jam and rack his brain...we have joked about this on the odd occasion.
    And that also goes for a lot of the guys who hang here on RO...if not for the fact I'm on the other side of the globe I'd be on your doorsteps in a heartbeat.

    I think sharing a little about himself and his accomplishments in the craft will do wonders with his students...it may give them a sense of just what can be achieved if you devote your life to the craft and work hard at it. I'm sure that from the perspective of those taking the course it is reassuring that they are learning from someone who knows the ropes and has a better perspective of the industry than most from knowledge gained from first-hand experience. Personally I'd love to take the course just to be able to hang out with him for the week...I'm sure I'd learn a thing or two and look at things from another perspective along the way. And being the type of guy he is, I don't feel that those taking the course would receive that as being arrogant at all.

    Not blowing smoke up your arse Donny...but thats' what I think. ;)
    kmetal likes this.
  17. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    +1 :love:
    kmetal likes this.
  18. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Remember everyone is an 'engineer' or 'producer' these days. We know this, an mbox and MacBook and all the sudden they've got themselves a title.

    Basically I think you almost have to just say some of your accomplishments upfront to seperate you from the pack. Your obviously not gonna name every single one right away or say it with a boastful/long winded nature, but if you cherry pick a few that should be just fine. You've got one chance to make a first impression. It's always cool to toss them in when there relevant along the way as well.

    I was personally impressed when you said you did the billy blanks tae bo commercials. Lol it came up one time. I just thought it was cool cuz it was something I'd actually heard and seen. Lol gotta love those late night red eye commercials!!

    I've not been lucky enough to had any of my work broadcast or released by a major label, but I always try to drop a few relevant things pretty early on when meeting a new client. I just mention it casually and move on. I'm not sure people give a $*^t or not, but it doesn't hurt I'm sure, and I certainly don't dwell on it, I just mention a couple names or projects.

    Show those kids what can be done w a 57 and some talent D! Go get em.
  19. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    The truly good artists let the music do the talking. I've found the most talented people I know personally and just in general either think they suck, or don't comment on they're skills at all.

    I worked w/for a super talented person who just absolutely turned people off with his arrogant stage presence. It came off fake. Nobody likes insecure front man but he took the old 'act like a star till you are one' advice too literally lol.

    Sooo many people make comments about it to me. The guy just wouldn't accept these comments as truth. It's a shame because this guy was actually one heck of an axe slinger, but his attitude turned people off. And that's what his reputation has been for years. It's a shame.
    pcrecord likes this.
  20. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    I would stick with the music and what you guys have to do to capture it. That is difficult in and of itself.

    Maybe a brief example as you deliver your approach of what to expect from different surfaces...e.g. glass or curtains how one can enhance the higher frequencies and one can reduce the shine. Explain how that might affect the recording mix settings...etc.

    Be aware of your surroundings.

    Good luck
    audiokid likes this.

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