Thursday, January 19, 2012

Students benefit from intensive music recording experience

I have written about the convergence of technology and specifically digital media in the past. I still feel very strongly that this convergence is being missed by many colleges and universities. We are still working in our silos for the most part. The students are seeing the opportunties for collaboration and are often "cherry picking" among digital media courses (credit and non-credit) to build a personal portfolio of skills.

This week our campus experimented with a short non-credit workshop focused on music recording. The whole process was explained and demonstrated by professional engineers. Students paid a small fee for the workshop, but got two 8 hour days of instruction. Keep in mind this was not a credit program, was not sponsored by the university, and was not required. Students signed up to become immersed in the music recording process for the fun of it. This is pretty unusual these days. It was also interesting that many of the students had also had credit courses in video production and other digital media areas.

You can learn more about the program at The Recording Experience web site. I stopped by the studio to see how this were going and found students standing for hours in the sound studio totally focused on what was being explained by the professionals. They spent day one working in the computer lab learning how Avid Pro Tools is used in recording and mastering music tracks. They spent day two learning how to mic instruments and voices, and doing the actual recording. A touring band provided the talent. The band members of Honor By August interacted with students and really got into the instructional nature of the sessions.

Johnnie Kearse, one of the students said " It was awesome man! I'm incredibly inspired after the last two days. Thanks again for having something like this. Makes me love what I wanna do with my life even more."

Th lesson for me is that the technology and exposure to practicing professionals can, and will, engage students at a high level. This is not to say that this can, or should, replace the role of teaching faculty. The "real life" interaction with professionals provides context for the student's education and is also motivating. Connections between what students learn and how they might use it after gaduation is often missed in some disciplines. I hope that colleges can learn leverage the overall excitment coming from students and alter the way they teach to inlcude hands-on immersive experiences like this one. You could feel the interest and excitment coming from the studio. Very cool.

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