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Connecting the recording world together...

I've been toying with the idea of taking some classes in recording engineering, maybe even pursuing some kind of degree. Does anyone in the forum have any suggestions about schools, etc? It'd have to be something I can do from home since I work full-time. Incidentally, I hold Bachelor's and Master's degrees in electrical engineering from MIT, so I already understand the technology and the terminology a little more than the average Joe.


McLaughlin Tue, 06/29/2010 - 17:43

Oh boy. This is a loaded question and it's asked time and time again.

I for one, DID go the college route. I graduated from The Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis MN in the winter of 2006. I feel like overall it was a great experience. At that point in my life, I didn't have the discipline to sit down and learn/memorize and put into use a technique. I needed someone to say "do this, have it done by xxx, and I'll test you on it this day, and pass or fail you."

Had I gone the "alternate route" that is commonly offered and taken the college money and invested it in a recording studio and taught myself, I never would have gotten anything out of it. BUT, there are TON's of people who have that built in drive and determination to go this route and get something out of it.

At that point in time, I did not. Now, I do.

The most valuable thing about college is WHO you go to college with. 90% of the experience who you meet and spend your time with, not necessarily what you learn. (I guess this could be true for any college)

Here are some valuable lessons things to keep in mind and memorize if you go the college route. I would have loved to know this before I ever started college. But I know now, and knowing is half the battle.

#1 : Focus. Disconnect. Do not be distracted.
The next few years can be your training sequence - if you focus.
Unfortunately you're not in Siberia. You're surrounded by distractions.
You're surrounded by cool tempting people, hanging out casually, telling you to relax.
But the casual ones end up having casual talent and merely casual lives.
Looking back, my only classmates that got successful were the ones who were fiercely focused, determined, and undistractable.

#2 : Do not accept their speed limit.
You don't get extreme results without extreme actions.
Classes set a pace the average student can keep.
If you want to be above average, you must push yourself to do more than required.
There's a martial arts saying, “When you are not practicing, someone else is. When you meet him, he will win.”
If you are a writer, you should not only write a song a week, but spend twice as long improving it as you do writing it.

#3 : Nobody will teach you anything. You have to teach yourself.
Do not expect the teachers to teach you.
They will present some information to you, but it is entirely 100% up to you to either make the most of it, or waste your time here, and go home and get a normal dumb job.

#4 : Learn from your heroes, not only theirs.
The teachers are taking their favorite music and using it to teach you techniques.
Learn and appreciate those techniques. They're great.
But if you only learn the techniques they teach you, you're only learning their favorite music.
Never think their heroes are better than yours.
You'll hear a lot about the greats, but whatever you love is great, too.

#5 : Don't get stuck in the past.
Innovation is needed more than imitation.
Don't get stuck in the past.

#6 : When done, be valuable.
When you leave, head to the business aisle of the bookstore and start reading a book a week about entrepreneurial things like marketing.
Never underestimate the importance of making money making music.
Remember that this usually comes from doing the things that most people don't do.
For example : how much does the world pay people to play video games? Nothing, because everyone does it.
How much does the world pay people to make video games? A ton, because very few can do it, and lots of people want it.

Besides all that.... you really have to decide for yourself.

1) Can you take that chunk of money (IPR came out to a little under $40,000) and use it to build your studio and learn as you go.
2) Or do you need someone leaning over you telling you exactly what everything does and forcing you to memorize it? BUT you're building your network simultaneously.

BobRogers Tue, 06/29/2010 - 18:12

First things first. You don't need any credentials or degrees. Your MIT EE degrees trump any degree in recording technology offered. You need knowledge and experience. If you can get a part time job or internship (even unpaid) that would probably be your best bet.

dave_p Mon, 07/12/2010 - 13:27

Do you have a recording studio nearby? I took a 12 week course at a professional recording studio (this was back in the analog tape days, adat was fairly new at the time so we covered that as well). It was a few nights a week, so I went after work. The first week was some Electrical theory which you already seem to have, and after that we were familiarized with the equipment and started recording bands every night. Different bands, different scenarios. Everything from laying cable, to mic technique, to recording, mixing and mastering. It was an invaluable primer and the only thing needed after it was over was just more experience doing what you learned. We got experience, and bands got demo's and albums at a cut rate for using us noobs.