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"Apprenticeship" compared to "Recording School"?
Old 14th August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

"Apprenticeship" compared to "Recording School"?

The gearslutz bug has bitten me so I'd like to actually be PAID for
my addiction for knob twisting.

Seriously, I'm considering entering Recording Connection's program, and would appreciate any insights, comments, whatever, regarding apprenticeships or schools, etc.
Their website is

Thanks in advance for any responses,

P.S. This is even after reading MM's "diary"!
Old 14th August 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

The best way, aside from luck and connections, to get paid decently for this is to be very good. How you get there is up to you.

Probably the best way, and certainly the time-tested one, is to apprentice under a master engineer and mentor.

Whether you need to go to school in order to help create that situation is a decision only you can make.

My experience has been that most people fresh out of recording school know little of practical use in the real studio. Typical weak spots are maintenance trouble-shooting and repair, soldering, signal flow, electrical schematics and wiring, session psychology, session documentation, ATR alignment/bias/azimuth, timecode/sync/LTC/MTC expertise, console automation, scales/solfege/music theory, and a calm, can-do, no-problem attitude.

You should realize that rec school grads who want to be in high-end music recording usually start out as unpaid interns, then runners, then assistants.

There is a lot of competition to get into the very limited number of high-end pro studio situations. People who aren't that motivated or who need paying gigs right away to survive usually end up in project or home studio situations, or they migrate to post/jingle/film/multimedia or even to audio sales (Sweetwater/GC, etc).

Good luck!
Old 14th August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Good to see my natural inclination to seek an apprentice/mentor
working relationship is shared by someone who knows what they're
doing. Will keep your advice in mind.

Old 14th August 2002
Lives for gear
Mike O's Avatar

Another, somewhat unorthodox option might be for the student to pay someone to apprentice under. In other words pay somebody to be your personnal "school". One step beyond upaid intern (yikes!), but with some sort of understanding about what comes next from somebody who is actually working - not just teaching.

Might be a staged process whereby the student pays engineer x $ to be runner for x period of time. Student/engineer then agree whether to proceed. Student then pays engineer x $ to actually start internship. Tasks to be taught (and learned) are at least loosely defined up front but for the most part this would have to be a trust sort of thing. Student not to be abused. Engineers time not to be wasted.

Student can be cut at the end of phases. Just a (probably ridiculous) thought.
Old 14th August 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

That is pretty much what happens around here, except that there is no money involved.

We pick our interns/runners/patch boys pretty selectively. There are 3-4 of them on board at any given time, 1-2 present morning/afternoon and 1-2 evening/night. They don't get paid and have to do whatever needs to be done, but they get informal training and real studio experience. How much they learn depends a lot on their initiative, motivation and time. They generally do this for one to four months, following which they either leave or move up to an assistant or maintenance role.

BTW it is true that the really exceptional ones have usually done a good school. By 'good', I'm talking about 4-5 years of university and a B.A./M.A. in electrical engineering or acoustics. These guys, however, can make a lot more money doing something else. I have two of them at the moment starting up an acoustic design / architecture firm at the studio here.
Old 14th August 2002
Mention of unpaid or low paid internship CAN cause howls of "its against the law" from some folks..

What do folks think?

Problem is from the beginning an intern is semi useless untill trained up for the tasks required...

Old 14th August 2002
Lives for gear
sonic dogg's Avatar
..Ah, a subject that begs fall my step-son will be attending a school for the Arts...he's enrolled in the recording department...its expensive but a tour of the facility has shown that they have the tools to train someone whos motivated and interested ...he doesnt hurt that hes got a 24 track facility at home to learn some points of method on...BUT..and i say this after reading this and other points on other forums and talking with people i come into contact with who are 'in the business' to differing degrees...most have said that the schools of this type 'while giving kids an opportunity to work on the gear and learn to use it, the information they recieve is lacking insofar as real time sessions and of course upkeep and repair of said gear and such, and most high end facilities are not likely to hire these youngsters out of these schools because of this...would this be the general opinion of those of you here on this forum?...if this is the case then what value you put on a two year stint at a specialized school for such folks?...dont tell me i'm wasting my money because he will apply and work his ass off to win their schoarship moneys that they offer..hes just that driven...but thats not my concern is after all is said and done he'll have a solid grasp on things and will be shut out of a job market because of perceived gaps in his knowlege....hes got real good ears already and will work all of us under the table on any given day and i hate to think hes wasting his time on somethng he may never realize without that one little 'break'.....
any opinions from you 'true pros' would be appreciated..peace
Old 15th August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Mike, your ideas have merit IMHO.
In fact, "Recording Connection"'s program is based largely on those ideas. (reminds me of the "dowry" system!)

Anyone one who'd like to check out their site at is welcome to state any further thoughts on this matter.

Thanks again everybody for the quality input!
Old 15th August 2002
Motown legend
Bob Olhsson's Avatar

One thing I think many people don't understand is that the only job you eventually get hired for at many facilities doing major label work is that of a second engineer. First engineers generally work directly for the artist and the producer.
Old 15th August 2002
Lives for gear
davemc's Avatar

Also like here in Melb OZ, (wiggy and kev can correct me) there are what 3-4 large music studios around here that employees assistants.
Most other studios are 1-3 man operations that are skimping by and cannot afford to hire anyone.

There are two schools SAE and JMC.
I think a smaller one and other part time studies.
3 Tafe(tech school) courses
2-3 uni courses

So a lot of kids come out and go for jobs at the major studios which are already taken. So they try the smaller studios like my own. I say I would like to have an assistant but I am not paying anything until you can work on your own or bring me value.
2-5 mates bands after hours with no time constraint does not really count as real world experiance. They have put upto US15,000 in two year course and now they have to work for nothing to start off with, which does not sit well with most of them.
Its really a hard thing, a lot start there own studios but it is past saturation point here with small studios so they go under.
Working your ass off and hooking up with a better known engineer and paying him the $$$$'s sounds great idea. As long as everything is upfront what you are going to be taught, also you get your name on a few known credits to start with.
Old 15th August 2002
You need to go to recording school first these days, BEFORE you do an internship / aprenticeship IMHO.

Classic CV mistakes

Calling yourself an engineer on the CV (and beliving it)
Listing all the gear at the school as gear you have 'extensive experience' on (yawn!) Just fess up and list "the schools gear"
Offering a CD of your 'work'
Refering to yourself as 'composer' 'creative director', 'producer' on any of the tiny projects you have done prior. Its a runner / gopher gig you are going for dummy, not a f**ing Acadamy Award nomination.
"I will relocate" pleads - screw that, move to a studio town or forget it (or lie and use a relations / friends address and your cel phone number)
not mentioning that you are willing to start as a runner / intern / night watchperson / cleaner.
Not mentioning that full time is your goal but part time/ weekend / evening / short notice work is just fine too.
Not mentioning that you are prepaired to work a free trial period
Not putting your age IN NUMBERS ie 21 years old - on the top of CV
Not mentioning how you live close to or can get to that studio with ease.
Not listing cool references.

Old 15th August 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

A big second to what Jules says in the post above. Most resumes are catastrophic and get turned into paper airplanes or crumpled balls right quick.

Before anyone gets concerned, unpaid intern work is legal here in France within the framework of a program of's called a 'stage conventionne' and the studio is absolved of any work-related accident/injury/civil liability insurance requirements (an important point to verify if you are a studio manager).


Sonic dogg,

If your step-son's goal is a paid assistant position in a major studio, which is the logical first step to a music engineering career, he should (1) know the tech side pretty well, whether learned in your studio or at school, (2) have good people skills...and then (3) parlay them into an internship at a major studio for real world experience at that level.

I agree with Jules -- having done a recording school just means that he can be considered a good candidate for an internship.

People want a genius with a track record; how you get there is up to you (I'm still working on it myself).

Like Bob said, studios doing major-label work hire assistants, not first engineers. But it's the royal path to eventually becoming a first, if you have the talent. It's about meeting and being around the right people (artists, producers, labels) in the right place (while they are recording/mixing in the studio). I believe Ed Cherney worked as an assistant/2nd for six long years before moving up to first engineer. When he got his chance, though, I'm inclined to think his competence level was pretty damn high, which had a *slight* effect on the rest of his career. Also, I understand Toby Wright got started working in major studios via the *gear maintenance* route, which he did for the better part of a decade...before coming into his own as an engineer and producer.

Very few rec school grads have any competence in gear maintenance and repair...and knowing how to do so is a *big* advantage in my eyes. (I'm amazed at how little the students learn about this in the rec schools' curriculum.) IMO, knowing how to repair gear is an express lane to getting an internship at a major studio...and once you're in, you're in play and meeting people. So learn to repair gear!
Old 15th August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Bob, thanks for the dose of reality.
I HAD thought that first engineer working for a producer and/or
artist was the exception, not the rule.

davemc, the Recording Connection program will probably be my first step, and it's pretty much the "pay to play" (learn) method.

Jules, thanks for the tips on a resume'.
Fortunately, being gainfully self-employed makes it feasible to work part time, and feel damn lucky to get "whatever".

Jon, it's fine for me to find work in a non "high end" studio,
the important thing for me is to keep learning, and improve.

Terrific advice guys, I really appreciate all this!

Old 15th August 2002
Lives for gear

I'm a young guy myself and have my own game plan that seems to be working well for me, consisting of putting together my own little place, building up some clients and tracking in bigger rooms here and there. Im doing pretty well for being 20. I've done about 12 real full length records and a bunch of EP's for various bands. Some of the stuff has sold pretty well (in a certain niche, not commercially). But with the stuff that I've done I'm able to talk to bigger guys about being able to assist them on bigger records. I'm hoping that in 5-10 years I'll be the one recording these records.

I dont really understand going to a recording school. The hard part about engineering/producing is learning how to deal with problems, and keeping a session rolling smoothly. You dont have to pay a ton of money to learn good signal flow, how to align a tape machine, basic maintenance, console automation and all that. Thats the easy part. You can learn all that by hanging out at a studio and working with local bands.

I started running monitor mixes at a big church when I was 12 and working with a PA rental company a year later. I learned so much doing that stuff, and it was free. I cant imagine paying a ton of money for them to teach me basic wiring and how to use a soldering iron. If you need to learn how to use the automation on an SSL it would be much cheaper to rent a room with one for a day and get the assistant to show you.

One thing that most people dont know is how little they actually teach you. A guy I know got back from fullsail a couple months ago and man..... that guy is dumb. He doesnt understand signal flow to save his life, because he's never had wire something completely by himself. His knowledge of PT is ridiculously low. He didnt know how to open a new session, because that was always done by the teacher. So yeah he might have gotten his hands on an SSL and might have memorized a few things on it, but does he understand it? Hell no. He didnt know **** about tweaking reverb patches because "all the presets on the 480 I worked on always sounded good. HE didnt know about basica stuff like predelay, decay rate/density or anything. So yeah, he's worked on a 480, and I've never even seen one, but Id feel way more confident that I could get a good sound out of one if I got to spend an hour with it.

So yeah, I just dont see the point in a school. Id rather take an extensive class in PT, takea few electronics classes (which I have yet to do) and work your ass off, either on your own gear or someone elses (or better off, both).
Old 15th August 2002
"Fortunately, being gainfully self-employed makes it feasible to work part time"


WRONG way of putting it!

YOU wil drop everything to get the studio job
YOU are available at a moments notice
YOU never, never mention your full time job, because
YOU will be able to drop it like a hot brick, if you get a job

Problem is what comes next is "Well I am free from 7pm 5 days a week, thursdays I do soccer, and I am free every Sunday except the third of the month when I go to Chess club.." FORGET IT!

Being available at the studios whim - is a vibe!

Internships are full time gigs, studios dont have little time slots for part time 'tourists' that fit a little work in with their day job - dream on! Hello! Coffee / smell / wake up / & / the?


Next, the catch 22 of not enough money from a studio gig for rent & food....

Stay tuned...
Old 15th August 2002
Capitol Studios Paris
jon's Avatar

I pretty much agree with davemc and red planet's posts.

Chessparov, forgive me if I'm wrong, but I have the impression you are seeking validation of a decision already made and listening selectively to what you want to hear (a very human trait which I'm certainly not immune to).

Reality check Part II...keep in mind that there are many more rec school students graduating each year than there are recording internships available at major studios. A certain percentage of the interns become assistants, and a very small percentage of those will go on to make a good living as freelance engineers in music.

In case Jules didn't make it clear enough, aspiring pros should definitely consider relocating to a major music city like LA, NY or Nashville. In Europe, London and Paris have the biggest concentration of major studios.
Old 15th August 2002
And lets not forget Asian / African / South American & East European recording centers too! The recording world is truly international!

Big hello to everybody out there, wherever you are!

Attached Thumbnails
"Apprenticeship" compared to "Recording School"?-globsmi3.jpg  
Old 16th August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Jules, you left out "and give me 20" for daring to affront the sacred code of studio ettiquette for when they say "jump",
I must yell out "how high"! (just kidding-thanks for the concern)

I'm more flexible than my posts would seem to indicate though.
Will watch, however, my communication phraseology,
especially regarding a preference to work locally.

Jon, you are correct in regard to looking for some reassurance
from those like yourself already doing this.
Major change is moderately apprehensive for me.

BTW, I live in Orange County, CA so a drive into "Lost Angeles"
is feasible, although again there's a preference to be in one of the local studios in Orange County.

Old 21st August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Just a bit of follow-up here.
Left my name and phone # at "Recording Connection" last week,
and no return call-yet. It did seem like a possible red flag that there
isn't a direct phone number, e-mail contact availability, or physical
location shown on their site.
Also found several posts saying that the course materials are basically
20 (one hour) lesson plans, and that they take the fee up front with no
refunds possible. Hmm... maybe the classic intern path is better than I

Old 21st August 2002
Here for the gear

Where I am? Down in the rural bayou country of South Louisiana? Little chance of either,,,school, or apprenticeship. Was almost 20 years ago I got a Fostex X-15. Played with that a couple of years. Used it, on and off, during the 90's,,very minimally, and it wasn't till Oct 2000, that I got the Tascam 788. It's been learn by doing,,read all you can,,do alot of listening, alot of recording. I've been with music all my life,,playing guitar 37 years,,,read well,, know theory, have played violin in a university orch. I'm really a fiddler, as well as an old(51 years) rock guitarist. So, I'm getting there.
Old 21st August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

paddy, nice to see another kindred spirit.
Next week I'm supposed to meet with a local studio owner who I've been
on friendly terms with for several years and has a good opinion of yours truly.
So we'll see...


P.S. paddy, welcome to the bbs!
The "pros" here have done an excellent job of putting up with a relative
novice like me BTW.
Old 21st August 2002
Here for the gear

Thanks Chris, I appreciate it, and am always glad to meet others who share my interests and/or situation. I've been in a pretty decent studio, in Lafayette Louisiana, Red Cap, where when I was fiddling for a group from there, we did some recording,,so I got to see what was needed(by way of what you need to call yourself pro, equipmentwise),,and I'm glad of the bbs like theses,,there're quite a few, where there are some real pro's who are willing to share knowledge, what have you. The Tascam 788 board is a neat place. I post as fiddlpat there,,but while I still have the 788, I've really expanded my studio over the summer, so the 788's in the corner, awaiting some, perhaps, location work, and the new centrepiece is the Alesis ADAT HD24. I like my new stuff,,just need to get facile with it.
I yet need to render my place better acoustically,,especially with regard to isolation from external sound. Have nice high ceilings though,,and a very cluttered room.

Old 21st August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

Sure thing paddy.
If anything comes up along my "travels" that can be of benefit
along these lines it will be included in my future posts to help
others or to simply compare notes. May the mother of Alsihad
have mercy on us! (Alsihad is a pet name for Pro Tools BTW)

Old 22nd August 2002
Here for the gear

Thanks again Chris.
I've been a rapt reader of Mixerman's adventures, since he started that documentary in early August.
I picked up on the Alsihad thing,,but, I was doing Google searches on it before being enlightened.
Someone on the ProSoundWeb forums had posted about it.
It's Alls I Had(to work with) is how I understand it. That's some of the funniest, yet educational reading I've done on the subject, and I'm glad we have access to his missives.
I have DP3 myself, on my iMac, for my 2 track masters and burning, and it's an impressive program itself,,far beyond me, in alot of respects, at this juncture,,though I'll learn it as I go. It has a nice Mastering app built in. I updated(upgraded, I should say) it from AudioDesk, so I'm pretty much set, don't need Alsihad,,but, alot has been done with that program.

Old 22nd August 2002
"Next week I'm supposed to meet with a local studio owner who I've been
on friendly terms with for several years and has a good opinion of yours truly.
So we'll see..."

Can I offer, some advice?

"Sweeping up, coiling cables & running errands is fine with me and I don't mind weekend work at all" - big smile , look straight into their eyes and mean it when you say it.

Old 22nd August 2002
Gear Maniac
vsl666's Avatar

short opinion

evening gentelmen

i had a few freinds i trained with who went to college
it maybe made their 1st few months easier
as they at least had a miniscual understanding
of what an input was..tho i guess they then started
2-3 years later than me so it was a bad trade of
yeah college suks
get down to ityuktyy
gotta say i like the diy i got my own place together
and got on with it vibe ...does it work ?

i guess the bottom line is if you are intelligent polite
focused relentless then you will make it any way ,,,

but if your not no way will work ...
its a funny old game...but better than heavy lifting!

Old 22nd August 2002
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
chessparov's Avatar

paddy, nice set-up.

Jules, will take your advice, THEN ask about the quality of the
coffee, cookies, babes, and most importantly the CHOCALATE
MUFFINS! Are all engineers addicted to them?

Damian, good points and will watch my back when lifting my
reel to reel!

Old 22nd August 2002
"coffee, cookies, babes, and most importantly the CHOCALATE
MUFFINS! Are all engineers addicted to them?"

Uh, YES! (all 3)

Old 30th August 2002
Lives for gear
C.Lambrechts's Avatar

Originally posted by chessparov
paddy, nice set-up.

Jules, will take your advice, THEN ask about the quality of the
coffee, cookies, babes, and most importantly the CHOCALATE
MUFFINS! Are all engineers addicted to them?

Damian, good points and will watch my back when lifting my
reel to reel!


been agreeing with most of what is said out here but I cannot let this one pass :


that HAS to be replaced by COTE D'OR chocolate bars .......

NO discussion possible .....

Old 30th August 2002
Forgive them, they know not what they have done....

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