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Recording Arts Technology/Technician


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What to Expect

High quality recordings take more than a digital audio workstation and a set of headphones. Recording engineering students learn from industry leaders about the technology, musicianship and techniques required for every hot track on the radio.

Students can expect a mix of lectures and labs. Students getting a bachelor of music degree in sound recording will also take general arts classes to round out their education.

After she began guitar lessons at the age of seven, Keri Klick knew she wanted to pursue music as her career. Playing in a band wasn't for her.

"A career in audio gives you flexibility -- you can do live sound, recording, sound system design, post-production for video -- and it allows you to work with music on a regular basis."

Now she's a live sound engineer taking a double major in studio production and arts management at SUNY Purchase, NY. "The hands-on instruction really prepares students for a career outside of class."

Although she's the only girl in her class, Klick says she doesn't feel awkward. "Nobody looks at me like I'm from another planet or anything. I think that women tend to shy away from a career like this because it seems out of reach, but it's a perfectly attainable goal and it can be an incredibly rewarding, enjoyable career."

Stephanie Scheffler is an audio engineering student at the Institute of Production and Recording in Minneapolis. She agrees with Klick. "Women in the field are very rare, which is why when you show up on day one everyone is so happy to see another girl there. So my advice is just to go for it."

These programs often have final projects that test your skills. Students are challenged to produce, record, edit and master their own CDs.

Internships are also a great way to build skills, as Sarah MacDonald has found out. As a student in an audio engineering and production program, she got her foot in the door with an internship at a production company. She plans to move on to assisting and then to engineering. It's hard work to make an impression.

"Any time I spend in the studio or on my computer working on my projects I consider studying, so on average I spend about three to seven hours a day -- not including class time," she says. If she has studio time booked it might be a 40-hour week for her.

"I love being able to work in huge studios from day one, and being taught by industry professionals. The most exciting thing about it is knowing that one day people could be listening to my creations on the radio," says Scheffler.

Recording engineering students don't usually get written homework. "The majority of my work involves running sessions, tracking down musicians, and mixing bands," says Klick.

MacDonald says to start saving. The long hours in the studio will make it hard to work part time while you're in school. You may shell out for a new computer and a digital audio workstation (DAW).

"I suggest getting free demos of the DAW and a used computer that will still be powerful enough to run the software," says MacDonald. "Believe it or not, there is a ton of scholarship money out there, and there are some awards just for music students," says Klick. Many scholarships allow you to buy equipment with the money.

How to Prepare

Make sure to take music class and anything with electronics and physics, says MacDonald.

"The best way to learn in high school is to talk to people who are putting performances together and ask if you could be a part of the productions, behind the scenes as a tech," recommends Klick. She says to read as much as you can to educate yourself about the industry.


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