Of course, education is a very good thing, but in the audio engineering field, it often seems to be carried in an environment which is completely detached from the real world.
I learnt about recording and mixing by direct contact with the experienced engineers I assisted on real sessions, and it's the best way.
Of course, there are many technical apsects of recording whgich can be taught in an academic environment, but that's not the whole story. This is one reason why the MPG and APRS set up J.A.M.E.S. - but Tony knows a lot more about this than I do....
I should also reply to this - I teach audio production and synthesis techniques in two universities - Thames Valley in London and Glamorgan in Wales. Both have some very experienced engineers and producers on staff - Pip Williams at TVU. The problem for aspiring engineers is that there just aren't so many top pro studios around nowadays, so there are very few opportunities to sit at the feet of the masters. But perhaps the hardest thing to communicate is how to behave in the studio environment - many of the young people coming out of the early audio schools just didn't know when to shut up, or understand that a lot of what goes on in that creative process is subtle stuff about helping the artist to feel comfortable about expressing themselves. A studio can be the most alien situation for creative expression. Any good course should be making sure that the students understand that it's not just about the right mike and processor!
Some years ago, at the start of the technology surge, I was very certain that the rapid development of music industry courses was a good thing. Now I am not so sure!
Quite frankly I believe that there are now too many courses available with an emphasis towards the areas of the industry that are significantly oversubscribed.
For instance there is a great need for people in the live sector and certainly we need more artist managers, but I often find myself looking at a room full of aspiring engineers who will find it very difficult to find the sort of job they want.
In all honesty there may not be more people wanting to work in studios than when I started but perhaps the filtering mechanism of having no other way to get started than pure determination coupled with a bit of luck, helped to maintain a balance. Now, because so much government emphasis is placed on 'providing' opportunity (mostly to keep employment statistics looking healthy!) a completely different landscape has emerged.
Together with APRS, the MPG believes that many of the courses available offer excellent grounding and some time ago joined the initiative to give some indication to prospective students (and their parents) and prospective employers of the industry relevance and worth of the various courses available.
This began with the course accreditation programme which is now firmly established as a benchmark for the educational establishments to work towards.
Our aim from the start was to avoid being too judgemental in our approach to this and we always stress that our role is to support and advise from an industry perspective.
During this process we also identified the need for a clear point of contact between the industry, education and government that would give us a stronger more democratic voice and at the same time safeguard the interests of those of us who strive to make a living from working with music or aspire to do so.
It became immediately evident that this would work two ways and also enable us to give colleges access to the wealth of experience from the many engineers and producers still working in the industry.
I learnt about recording and mixing by direct contact
i find this process is more or less dying....first, lemme explain that i havn't gone to a formal school for engineering, but i have noticed the plethora of ppl coming out of these such schools, and now, for some reason, ppl don't take me as seriously as someone that has gone through this 'training'
but the amount of mentoring, has gone down quite substantially...now there are a few reasons for this, one being the 'mentors' are simply too busy, and two, the market is SATURATED with all these 'SAE' type recording school graduates....it's the equivalent of "rock star school"....now even if there were such a school, 9 out of 10 wouldn't move on to become rock stars....but do you think the market is saturated with all these future audio engineers?
i, for one, have the heart and dedication...just no "credentials" and i've found (at least here in Nashville) that ppl don't take me seriously because they've got 15 "future grammy winners" fighting for the same spot as me...
i guess my point is, I (personally) don't see the one-on-one mentoring that used to be "the way to make it" gooin' on.