Learning to be a Studio Engineer
Making a career for yourself in a creative industry can be a daunting and intimidating challenge. Where do you start? How do you get your foot in the door? These are common concerns for young would-be professionals. The music industry is a perfect example of all of these concerns. There’s no coursebook to read or curriculum to follow when it comes to learning to be a studio engineer.
A studio engineer isn’t just someone who understands the acoustics of music, or the scientific principles of mic placement, or what a compressor does. This knowledge is only part of it. Studio engineers don’t just know how the gear works. They also know how to solve problems; they know how to plan for the unexpected; they know how to work with clients; they know how to organize and run recording sessions; they know how to identify problem areas in the mix, and they know how to fix them.
A studio engineer also has a highly trained ear that can hear little problems in the audio many people can’t detect, but which can make the all difference between a professional-sounding recording and a mediocre one.
The Best Sound Engineer Schooling
All of this is to say that if you really want to learn to be a studio engineer, it’s going to take more than just studying the textbook and doing your assignments—it’s going to take spending time in the studio, watching your mentor carefully, and learning by doing. You need the hands-on experience of working with actual recording professionals and learning how to develop an ear that truly understands what it’s doing. You’re going to need to be boots on the ground, doing the work, if you want to really know if you have what it takes.
This is exactly why the Recording Connection insists that you be trained in a real recording studio, not in a classroom. We pair you with a working professional producer and you will learn the craft and trade of being a studio engineer from someone who has been in the game for years. These individuals have been around the block, have seen the industry shift repeatedly, and have adapted. They’ll teach you the ins and the outs of what it takes to not only be a great engineer but also how to have longevity.
MAKING THE MOST OF THE OPPORTUNITY
Obviously, we’ve provided a quality curriculum that you need to study—but the real work is going to happen in the studio as you assist in recording sessions with your mentor. Here are some tips for making the most of that opportunity:
- Spend lots of time in the studio. Don’t just go to class. Be in the studio as often as your mentor allows, and as often as your schedule allows. The more you’re around when recording sessions are happening, the more quickly you’ll pick things up.
- Watch, learn, and ask. Don’t just read about what a preamp does: watch how your mentor uses it, and if he doesn’t explain it, ask him why he chose that particular preamp for that sound. Pay attention to how the engineer responds to certain sounds, and how he makes adjustments on the board or on the DAW. Ask about things you don’t understand. Remember, you’re there to learn, and your mentor wants you to understand.
- Take the initiative. As you get more comfortable in the studio, when you see something that needs to be done, don’t wait to be asked. Become part of the process. Get your hands dirty. This is a hands-on learning experience. The more you make yourself useful, the more your mentor will involve you in the process, and the more you’ll learn the tricks of the trade.
- Make connections. This is going to be a pivotal time for you. You’re going to be learning and working to make a name for yourself. But you’re also going to be meeting a ton of people. Make the most of this. You’re going to have the chance to make loads of connections, don’t be shy. Put your best foot forward.
- Work towards your goals. This is a perfect time to make headway in whatever direction you want to go. If you’re shooting to be a producer eventually then this is a great time to start producing tracks and trying to get them into the hands of artists. You need to be thinking about the angles. Yes, this time period should be you learning, but it’s also a time for laying the tracks for your future.
Ultimately, learning to be a studio engineer means learning by doing. No one learns this trade by reading a textbook. It takes many hours of watching, practicing, and even sometimes making mistakes. So, that’s exactly what you should be doing. This isn’t a theoretical situation. This is the actual thing. You’re actually literally going to be in the studio. Making music. Make the most of it. Really milk it for every ounce of experience you can take away from it. There’s no better place to learn than in the studio, and no better way to learn than by getting involved.