Anyone ever take audio courses from a community college?
jlaugh87
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#1
1st March 2011
Old 1st March 2011
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Anyone ever take audio courses from a community college?

I really have this desire to learn pro tools. I am a logic user, but I want to be more versatile when it comes to maybe doing some freelance stuff for friends in different studios.

Anyway... I was wondering if anyone has ever utilized a community college audio program. There's one in town that has 3 or 4 courses on Audio Recording using pro-tools.

My only dilema is that the courses require prerequisites... So while learning pro-tools I might also have to learn the difference between a preamp and and an EQ strip... Or a Dynamic microphone and Ribbon Microphone ...

Thoughts/Experience?
#2
1st March 2011
Old 1st March 2011
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The colleges have the prerequisites for a reason; if you don't know the difference between a preamp and an EQ you don't need to learn how to use ProTools, you need to find a new career area.

So I'd suggest learning everything you can from the place. It's sort of like knowing how to operate a gear shift but not knowing what the different pedals do and what the big round thing directly in front of you is

Take a full audio course, read as many books as you can, work hard.
#3
1st March 2011
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The pre-requisites could be important if they directly apply to engineering. You should know the differences between pre-amp and EQ, as well as different types of mics. Even if you only plan on mixing tracks recorded elsewhere, the details of tracking can be important in making decisions later in Pro Tools.

That being said... most schools require pre-requisites that aren't directly related. I've seen some programs that require a music composition course before taking a sound design or production course. That certainly makes sense if you're a musician and especially a music major - but for straight engineering, maybe not so much. It would be a benefit, but probably not necessary.
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1st March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
I really have this desire to learn pro tools. I am a logic user, but I want to be more versatile when it comes to maybe doing some freelance stuff for friends in different studios.

Anyway... I was wondering if anyone has ever utilized a community college audio program. There's one in town that has 3 or 4 courses on Audio Recording using pro-tools.

My only dilema is that the courses require prerequisites... So while learning pro-tools I might also have to learn the difference between a preamp and and an EQ strip... Or a Dynamic microphone and Ribbon Microphone ...

Thoughts/Experience?

Do you know the difference between a pre amp and a EQ? If you don`t, you need more than a crash course in PT.

Honestly, and I have said this before, you`re better off hiring a local engineer who can show you the ropes and walk you through the entire signal chain and PT. You`ll get details, stories and hands on experience, much more than a school will give you and honestly, in the real world, no one cares that you went to this school or that one. They want to know that you get results that they find desirable and that you`re a good guy to work with.
#5
1st March 2011
Old 1st March 2011
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I took an audio class at a community college, or maybe it was an adult school. I learned a few things too. The funny part was that it was packed the first night, and by the end there were only a couple of guys left.

Did you know that ProTools offers it's own certification courses? It may cost more than community college, but you won't have to take prereqs either:

Avid | Find a Course & Enroll

Ken
#6
1st March 2011
Old 1st March 2011
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There can be a wide range of quality of courses -- but even in a less-than-ideal course you can often get a lot out of the experience.

I went through two community college programs back in the early 80s (amusingly, I got in the first one just to get free recording time for my band -- which broke up before we got a chance to record); completing one 2 year program, with all the classes and getting a certificate at on school and taking the core recording programs at another.

I got a lot out of both, honestly, for very different reasons. One had funky gear, a terrible CR (but a great live room designed in the 50'[s by a real acoustically trained pro), and I actually out-tested the then-head of the rec program on the entrance test at the other school when I was about to get into that program after my first year at the first school -- but it had a great population of musicians, whereas the second school, more suburban, had really nice gear, a very knowledgeable, experienced instructor who was very professional and a great source of oral knowledge -- and who made us do the science, too, which I really did not want to do (hippie/punk that I was).

Sadly, though the gear was quite good: Neve board, MCI 2" machine (as opposed to TASCAM-centric at the other school), there just wasn't much hands-on (some of it due to unusual circumstances, a newly donated API board that immediately needed a complete overhaul, etc); and the musician pool was, well... suburban.

But a pal and I talked the instructor (a very cool guy considering he was part of the Christian pop scene) into letting us bring in a quite hip post-punk band from the scene (whose members later went on to some big gigs of their own).

That's really the lesson I learned from both places: a lot of times, you have to make it happen.

Most people, God love 'em, will sit on their hands if you let them. Sometimes you have to light a fire under folks to get anything interesting happening.

In both schools, most folks would have easily done nothing more than what it took to get a good grade. At the first time, at the time, sessions were not typically assigned. They were self-promoted. If it wasn't a vacuum, it was surely a low pressure zone. Since all I had at home (to start) was a couple cassette decks, I was eager to get going so I started putting things together as soon as I could.

At the other school, the instructor understood that folks would sit on their hands, if allowed, so he carefully mandated that everybody get hands on one way or another. Since he couldn't count on the students taking any initiative, he assigned everything. As a consequence, everyone got hands on -- but only in small doses.

So I got my book learning and science (as much as I was willing to absorb, anyhow) at one school, and my hands on and people experience at the other. I also started gigging in studios in my second year at the first school. But that was then, things were slim, I didn't make much money as a rule, but it was, without doubt, easier to get picked up as a freelance engineer for projects then.


ADDENDUM: Looking up across the other posts, I note that I forgot to mention those pre-reqs but I really intended to. Don't laugh them off!

The only reason I bested my instructor (at the first school) in the second school's entrance exam was because I'd lived audio and tape recording from the time I was about 12 until I discovered girls. Really discovered girls -- during my 20s, I had other agenda. Big time. But when I started in at the first community college when I was 29, I found recording was like riding a bike, to some extent. But that's all that prerequisite stuff.

I'll admit, I never liked pre-reqs, either, and I talked my way out of a lot of them when I was 20 and in university.

If you know your stuff -- and that really means knowing your stuff -- you may well be able to talk your way around some pre-reqs. But keep in mind that recording is not like philosophy or literature, where a good, audacious bluff has cowed many a grad-student instructor.

And if you don't know your stuff, those pre-reqs are doing you a real favor.
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1st March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernest Buckley View Post

Do you know the difference between a pre amp and a EQ? If you don`t, you need more than a crash course in PT.

Honestly, and I have said this before, you`re better off hiring a local engineer who can show you the ropes and walk you through the entire signal chain and PT. You`ll get details, stories and hands on experience, much more than a school will give you and honestly, in the real world, no one cares that you went to this school or that one. They want to know that you get results that they find desirable and that you`re a good guy to work with.
Depending on the circumstances and opportunities, that might very well be an entirely makes-sense plan.

But, from my perspective, I really felt that I benefited from working with a number of other engineers, other students -- many of whom had some studio and reinforcement experience, multiple instructors, and also other engineers I worked with as a producer in the real world.

When I put together a project in those days, I looked at the budget and tried to find the best studio I could for the money. If that came with an engineer, I'd have him do the set up, watching him carefully, gauging how much he knew and how well he seemed to know his own room, and then, if he was good, I'd kick back to the watchful producer role.

If, OTOH, as was the case around half the time or much more frequently on those occasions when the studio decision was in someone else's hands, I'd start taking over the engineering position early in the game, typically while getting sounds.

While I was eager to get as much knob experience as possible in those days, I would always defer to a better engineer. Not only did I want the best results possible, I learned a lot from working with some of the engineers I worked with -- and yet only negative lessons from some.


And that's why I think a monoculture can be risky. If you get a great engineer who really knows the game to be your paid mentor, that's great. But what if you get some schlubb?

And that could happen. The last audio class I took (in fact, I dropped out mid-way through) was from one of the 'hot' producers in my greater milieu. He was a nice guy. But I really got nothing from him, except a sense of claustrophobia that I can still summon today, from being clustered around him as he shouted over his extraordinarily loud mixes in the crowded CR. The 8 or 9 people in the class could fit in but it wasn't exactly luxurious. Actually, it was the volume that made me drop out... I mentioned it to him once and he was quite nice about it and honestly made an attempt. Like the frat boys next door... you know... they try... but it just creeps back up.

Wait... am I still on the college side? No, actually, my negative reverie sort of supports what I'm getting at... what if you picked some guy with a good rep in the local scene and he turned out to be, let's say, less than what you'd hoped?

Even if your instructor isn't ideal, in a college scene, there's a chance you'll learn from your fellow students.

But, really, like I said early up, schools can be all over the map.

You could end up in a dead environment where neither instructor, fellow students, or gear is up to snuff. Maybe then you go looking for that paid mentor?
jlaugh87
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1st March 2011
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I should have been more clear initially. I love gear (which is why we are all here...) I most certainly know the difference between a preamp and an EQ strip, and so on.

That is my hesitation with taking a course that touches up on the "basics and fundamentals" of recording even though it will have a Pro Tools focus.

I appreciate the feedback. I'm thinking I'm going to summon a local engineer to show me the ropes, rather than go to a course or two. Like I said, most of the studios here keep up to date with Pro-Tools as their main DAW. A lot of my friends bands ask about free-lance stuff, and it seems that it might be beneficial to know multiple software

I dont want this to be a career btw, only a hobbyist here.
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1st March 2011
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I teach audio production classes in a community college.

from time to time I get people with a 'background' in audio coming to see me and I am usually happy to sign them in to my advanced classes.

When it comes to prerequisites, most colleges have fine print that reads "prerequisite or permission of the instructor required"

talk directly to the instructor, he may have the authority to allow you to skip ahead to the course that is of interest to you. I know I do.


If you are a college freshman going for an Associate's degree, they may want to be a bit rigid on making sure you take the prescribed courses in order. But if you have been out in the World for a while, what our school calls a "returning student", a lot more leeway may be available to you. Community colleges tend to see this type of thing as a big part of their mission.

For my own part, I think it's great to have someone coming in to the college for the sole purpose of taking my little class. Most students are Communications Majors and many of them will be specializing later in video, or radio or broadcast writing. Having real 'audio people' is a treat.
#10
2nd March 2011
Old 2nd March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theblue1 View Post
If you know your stuff -- and that really means knowing your stuff -- you may well be able to talk your way around some pre-reqs. But keep in mind that recording is not like philosophy or literature, where a good, audacious bluff has cowed many a grad-student instructor.

And if you don't know your stuff, those pre-reqs are doing you a real favor.
Yup, theres nothing wrong with that pre-req stuff, its there to get you up to speed for the stuff you really want to study and honestly, even if you know most of it, theres no reason why you can`t take all of those courses in one semester and just fill in the gaps.

On a side note: I`m going back to school for my masters and there are 4 courses and some research/lab stuff I have to do as pre-req before I start my Masters work. I`m not looking at it as a bad thing. Is it slowing me down? I guess you could look at it that way but the truth is, I have not been to school in 11 years and I have never studied this field before so even though I have a Bachelors degree in Music, it is not helping me out in my Masters in Psychology. So... I`m thinking, 4 courses is all I have to do before I begin my Masters?! OK, sign me up!

If you`re going back to school and really know your stuff as Blue mentioned, then have the Chairperson set up some sort of test for you to prove your worth. If that can`t be done, just look at those pre-req courses as building up a strong foundation.

Whatever the case, I`m sure you will learn a lot whether you go the route I mentioned in my first post or go to the community college route. Most of all, enjoy the ride.
#11
2nd March 2011
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I took some courses at Santa Monica after I fell off the airplane in L.A.- the pre-rqs and a couple of film/video/audio classes to brush up on my skillz, and thought it was well worth it..If some of those courses are math- be sure to learn it..it's all math eventually. I'd do it again too, but I take classes elsewhere in town now, on a related field, through extension classes. Haven't tried the tech school approach ever, so I don't know a thing about them.
#12
2nd March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
My only dilema is that the courses require prerequisites... So while learning pro-tools I might also have to learn the difference between a preamp and and an EQ strip... Or a Dynamic microphone and Ribbon Microphone ...

Thoughts/Experience?
Just out of curiosity... why would you want to learn protools if you don't know that other stuff? I would assume that is what they are thinking as well by making it a pre-req.
#13
2nd March 2011
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2nd March 2011
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yup...

I'm in a MIDI class right now at community college. I really just went to use the gear and to pad the GPA, as I have already graduated from a recording school that's fairly well known.
The only work I found really was live sound, so that's all I really did after. It's giving me the chance to brush up on stuff and use gear for free Oh did it on a grant this time too, much smarter. Also I'm meeting people which as I am coming to understand is really the only thing that matters.
#15
2nd March 2011
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Ok, that's not true! I did go to Community College and the professor was hellbent on Logic (2002) and would get mad at me when I mentioned ProTools. I then challenged him to a mix off using a band that the class recorded. The mix off pissed him off cause the class 100% blindly chose my mix. Point of story...Community College recording classes rock because it is a lot more flexible (from my experience) and never mix off your professor I mean piss off your professor because he gave me a "C"
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2nd March 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlaugh87 View Post
I really have this desire to learn pro tools. I am a logic user, but I want to be more versatile when it comes to maybe doing some freelance stuff for friends in different studios.

Anyway... I was wondering if anyone has ever utilized a community college audio program. There's one in town that has 3 or 4 courses on Audio Recording using pro-tools.

My only dilema is that the courses require prerequisites... So while learning pro-tools I might also have to learn the difference between a preamp and and an EQ strip... Or a Dynamic microphone and Ribbon Microphone ...

Thoughts/Experience?
Yea, do it. I am a Logic Certified Pro, and I think if you understand Logic for Audio, you will be able to use Pro Tools in about 3, maybe 4 seconds. The prerequisite is a good thing. Think of it as a challenge that puts your skill in motion. You'll do well if its easy...and plus, it will be useful.

Anyway PT is very easy to use and operate in my view. Though, there are a lot of fundamental basics that engage the rules of war. Understanding it through and through and then applying it to any application is another thing, but hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?

I always say - learning can happen anywhere, as long as learning happens somewhere. I went to Community college for a while just to get into a school and earn my Associates Degree, so I say - it does not matter much where you are trying to learn, or who you are learning with, as long as you are satisfying your own interest in personal growth.
#17
2nd March 2011
Old 2nd March 2011
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If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, Foothill College (in
Los Altos Hills) has an *excellent* audio and video program.
Marc Anderson and Bruce Tambling are great instructors .. lots
of experience.

You can also take your PT certification exams there as well.

Jeff
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