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Recording School
Old 24th September 2012
  #1
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Recording School

Hi, I'm 22 years old, from British Columbia, Canada. I haven't gone on to do any proper schooling since high school and other than music, I still haven't a clue what I want to do with my life. I have played guitar since I was 15 and picked up the piano along the way. In this past year I've become a song writer and have noticed drastic improvements in my composing abilities. I really lack the knowledge of recording and have only been recording my material for roughly a year now as well. In the most modest and least conceited way possible, I do believe I have some natural talent when it comes to music and I'd really love to find a way to stick with it for the rest of my life, for my own sanity. I've been looking into recording schools to become a sound engineer and want to hear peoples thoughts on it. I have read on other sites/blogs before that some people think it's useless, but I'd still like to get some advice here on Gearslutz. I'm trying to way the pros and cons. Obviously I'm aware that going to one of these schools is extremely expensive and doesn't necessarily guarantee you a job. But then again, I suppose most forms of education are like this these days... Anyways, I've also considered maybe just spending the money I'd spend for schooling on gear and books etc. and teach myself. One of the reasons I'm still thinking a school could be a great choice is because there's that chance of making connections, or even meeting students with the same tastes and/or ambitions as me. Being a songwriter, I would like to be able to produce my own music and have a professional sound. My current recordings certainly do not do my songs justice.

I dunno if you guys can suggest a specific school (preferably in Canada; however, I have duo citizenship in with the US and going to school there might not be a bad idea either.) So for from my own researching I have narrowed it down to "Nimbus School of Recording Arts" in Vancouver B.C. I guess I'm hoping that someone who knows about that school also responds, cos reading about recording schools on their websites is very biased and they make every school sound awesome. One fact I know is that Garth Richardson is a founding member of that school.

Also, if you’re against the idea of recording schools, please give a good explanation of why, because I’ve had some people in their 30s and 40s who are being very pessimistic and saying I should just give up and I know they only say it cos they didn’t make it. Anyways, like I’ve said, I’ve been recording my music for almost a year now and have only progressed a little in producing, but I still suck. So I’m assuming it would take way longer to teach myself as opposed to school, but who knows. Maybe if there’s some really good books out there, I could check them out. I’m not specifically looking for a job. I just want the skill to be able to do things 100% on my own. I don’t want to have other people produce me and have to go into a studio etc.

I've probably repeated myself a few times here and there, but long story short, are recording schools worth it? And does anyone know anything about Nimbus School of Recording Arts? Thanks.
Old 25th September 2012
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Old 25th September 2012
  #3
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I personally loved the school I went to, and gained a lot of insight from it. It should be noted, however, that you only get out what you put in; if you want to learn, you really have to ask questions and actively involve yourself during any studio time. I had a lot of people in my group projects that sat by and didn't do much of anything, and it really showed on individual projects; they had no idea what they were doing.

That being said, a lot of the knowledge you'll learn in a school can easily be found on the internet. Or in books, particularly textbooks that are used in said schools.

Then, of course, there's always personal experience from internships. Gotta be choosy, though, because a lot of people look at interns as just free grunt labor. If you "shop around", if you will, you can learn a lot of valuable information that the aforementioned resources might not dive into.

And lastly, there is always the merit of having a degree. A lot of people look at colleges as essentially degree farms now, but I personally feel like it'll help you get your foot into the door for at least an interview or internship over Joe Schmo who has just been playing around on his Macbook and MBox for a few years.

So weigh all the pros and cons, and whatever decision you decide to go with, throw everything you've got into it and don't give up. It's a tough industry, particularly in the current economy. Take it from an unemployed recent graduate! :P
Old 25th September 2012
  #4
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Start by learning how to use the search function as this has been discussed to death here. Use the words "intern" and "internship" also. Frankly most would be better off taking privite recording lessons from some local engineers just like you probably did when you picked up the guitar. It will not cost much, you'll network with the guys in the trenches so if there were any jobs they would be of value, and you will be treated with respect because you are the client - not just one of the next batch to run thru the same course. There is plenty of net info out there for free to start your self learning too.
Old 25th September 2012
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bassmankr View Post
Start by learning how to use the search function as this has been discussed to death here. Use the words "intern" and "internship" also. Frankly most would be better off taking privite recording lessons from some local engineers just like you probably did when you picked up the guitar. It will not cost much, you'll network with the guys in the trenches so if there were any jobs they would be of value, and you will be treated with respect because you are the client - not just one of the next batch to run thru the same course. There is plenty of net info out there for free to start your self learning too.
Yeah, I'm still sorta new to gearslutz so I'm not that good at navigating the site. Also I figured it would hurt to post mine because even though I'm asking about the general topic of recording schools, I also did name a specific school in case there are people on gearslutz who've attended that school. Is it hard to find engineers willing to teach? I've actually never had any musical lessons. I don't know a whole lot about Nimbus, but to my understanding, it's technically a Studio/school. So I think it might be similar to interning, but I'm not entirely sure. But I've also heard about them setting students up to intern on the side while they attend school. One thing I know about myself is that I'm more right brain orientated and learn faster by seeing and doing as opposed to simply just reading.
Old 25th September 2012
  #6
Audio X
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In Canada, ..check into the audio program at McGill University in Montreal.
Old 25th September 2012
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by OolalavSuperfukk View Post
Hi, I'm 22 years old, from British Columbia, Canada. I haven't gone on to do any proper schooling since high school and other than music, I still haven't a clue what I want to do with my life.

In the most modest and least conceited way possible, I do believe I have some natural talent when it comes to music and I'd really love to find a way to stick with it for the rest of my life, for my own sanity.
If you love creating music in some way then definitely keep doing it (obviously). However you should really think very carefully about whether you want to do it for a living. Even very successful artists feel creatively stifled by the demands of a career and they are the lucky ones. There are a lot of people who drift into it because they don't want to do anything else but then drift around the edges of the business without the talent/dedication/luck/whatever to go further. That is not a slight on you btw as I have no idea how talented/dedicated/lucky you are. It's very unlikely you'll make decent money (although some do) and it's very likely you'll work long and often unsociable hours for not much reward so you'd better really love it or don't do it.

If you really don't know what to do with your life and you want to preserve your sanity as you say then you'd be better off spending your money on a good therapist or counsellor and addressing those issues. Seriously. Again, I'm not having a go at you by suggesting that. I've found therapy did me a world of good and helped me find what was important to me.
Old 26th September 2012
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Famous Yard View Post
If you love creating music in some way then definitely keep doing it (obviously). However you should really think very carefully about whether you want to do it for a living. Even very successful artists feel creatively stifled by the demands of a career and they are the lucky ones. There are a lot of people who drift into it because they don't want to do anything else but then drift around the edges of the business without the talent/dedication/luck/whatever to go further. That is not a slight on you btw as I have no idea how talented/dedicated/lucky you are. It's very unlikely you'll make decent money (although some do) and it's very likely you'll work long and often unsociable hours for not much reward so you'd better really love it or don't do it.

If you really don't know what to do with your life and you want to preserve your sanity as you say then you'd be better off spending your money on a good therapist or counsellor and addressing those issues. Seriously. Again, I'm not having a go at you by suggesting that. I've found therapy did me a world of good and helped me find what was important to me.
Well, it's definitely something I feel passionate about. Songwriting seems to be the only thing that relaxes my mind. Don't worry, I don't take offence to what you're saying. I don't doubt I need some therapy, but at the same time, I just don't see the point in working a job simply cos of the money. I'd rather be work a job that I make enough to pay my bills and be happy as opposed to a good paying job I hate and be wealthy and miserable. But yeah, like I stated before, I do feel some sort of impulse like it's what I'm supposed to be doing and that there is a reason I have some musical talent and such strong ambition; however, I know that there are very talented artists who never make it. Sure most people who don't make it, simply didn't have the talent or ambition, but there's certainly great artists who were unlucky. I don't consider myself a great artist, but I fee like my music is written well enough and is pretty accessible and I think if it was recorded properly and I was lucky enough to have people hear it, that I may have a chance. I dunno, perhaps I just sound young and naive... Anyways, if you don't pursue your dreams, then what is the purpose to life? That's not really a question directed at you, it's just something I ask myself a lot. I mean, we all work so that we have food and shelter to live, right? But what's the point if you're not living for something meaningful? Lol, sorry for going a bit off topic here...
Old 26th September 2012
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X View Post
In Canada, ..check into the audio program at McGill University in Montreal.
Foolish me, I never even thought about McGill. I'll definitely look into that as well. Thanks!

BTW, is that just a program you happen to be aware of? Or are you currently in it or did it in the past?
Old 26th September 2012
  #10
Audio X
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OolalavSuperfukk View Post
Foolish me, I never even thought about McGill. I'll definitely look into that as well. Thanks!

BTW, is that just a program you happen to be aware of? Or are you currently in it or did it in the past?
I have an acquaintance from there and have heard good things about the school.. also.. pretty sure George Massenburg still teaches there.
Old 26th September 2012
  #11
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Originally Posted by Audio X View Post
I have an acquaintance from there and have heard good things about the school.. also.. pretty sure George Massenburg still teaches there.
I'm pretty sure you'll need an under grad degree in music to get into that program. It used to be like that anyways.
Old 26th September 2012
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audio X View Post
I have an acquaintance from there and have heard good things about the school.. also.. pretty sure George Massenburg still teaches there.
OK, thanks.

PS: I just read that George Massenburg is still working there
Old 26th September 2012
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chiasson View Post
I'm pretty sure you'll need an under grad degree in music to get into that program. It used to be like that anyways.
Man, I sure hope not... I haven't studied music in school at all. I'm all self taught and don't know how to read sheet music properly. I used tabs or my ear for guitar and either my ear or sheet music for piano, but when I read sheet music, I just do it the same way as guitar tabs. So I actually have to be familiar with the song to play it. I could never be given sheet music and play a song I've never heard.
Old 26th September 2012
  #14
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I went to SAE it changed my life in a big, positive way. I am not rollin in the dough or anything but I can create a multitude of stuff quickly and efficiently. If I were you I would continue to study an axe or take vocal lessons. Definitely go into recording school being able to play/sing in the live room. It will help you greatly. Be able to tune everything, play a little bit of everything, know when something is flat or sharp, learn ohms law be able to make cables, roll up cables and label cables, learn to to monitor with meters and run faders and groups on a large format board, learn to automate stuff in the daw, get sounds right at the source.... You can learn alot and record alot at the right recording school. When you get out you will still be poor, but you will be light years from where you were and you will know some people too.
Old 26th September 2012
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by firby View Post
I went to SAE it changed my life in a big, positive way. I am not rollin in the dough or anything but I can create a multitude of stuff quickly and efficiently. If I were you I would continue to study an axe or take vocal lessons. Definitely go into recording school being able to play/sing in the live room. It will help you greatly. Be able to tune everything, play a little bit of everything, know when something is flat or sharp, learn ohms law be able to make cables, roll up cables and label cables, learn to to monitor with meters and run faders and groups on a large format board, learn to automate stuff in the daw, get sounds right at the source.... You can learn alot and record alot at the right recording school. When you get out you will still be poor, but you will be light years from where you were and you will know some people too.
You made some good points. I'm definitely leaning more towards going to a recording school as opposed to doing everything on my own now. I'm not too bad at singing, I could probably use some vocal training though, and I still have a fairly simple piano style, but my guitar playing is perfectly fine. The only thing I really lack is theory. I mean, I just sorta understand music and I can compose songs with many instruments etc. and keep everything in the right key without actually knowing what key I'm in etc. It's hard to explain. I'm sure there's plenty of people who approach music like myself, but I wonder if that's not viewed as very acceptable in a recording school or music program.

I understand that I will come out of the program poor, but that kinda goes for any kind of schooling. If I'm not mistaken, is it classified as a bachelors degree? I mean, even though I'd rather work in that field, there's plenty of people who go to University and don't end up working in their field in the future. Especially people who get English or History degrees but don't want to be teachers. If it does qualify as a bachelors degree, that's better than nothing.
Old 26th September 2012
  #16
Quote:
Originally Posted by OolalavSuperfukk View Post
Well, it's definitely something I feel passionate about. Songwriting seems to be the only thing that relaxes my mind. Don't worry, I don't take offence to what you're saying. I don't doubt I need some therapy, but at the same time, I just don't see the point in working a job simply cos of the money. I'd rather be work a job that I make enough to pay my bills and be happy as opposed to a good paying job I hate and be wealthy and miserable. But yeah, like I stated before, I do feel some sort of impulse like it's what I'm supposed to be doing and that there is a reason I have some musical talent and such strong ambition; however, I know that there are very talented artists who never make it. Sure most people who don't make it, simply didn't have the talent or ambition, but there's certainly great artists who were unlucky. I don't consider myself a great artist, but I fee like my music is written well enough and is pretty accessible and I think if it was recorded properly and I was lucky enough to have people hear it, that I may have a chance. I dunno, perhaps I just sound young and naive... Anyways, if you don't pursue your dreams, then what is the purpose to life? That's not really a question directed at you, it's just something I ask myself a lot. I mean, we all work so that we have food and shelter to live, right? But what's the point if you're not living for something meaningful? Lol, sorry for going a bit off topic here...
Hey! It's your thread... You go OT if you like! I think what you say is dead right. You've got to do something that's meaningful to you and there is absolutely no point in doing something just for the money (unless you really are destitute). If you really get a lot out of it and you're ok with the possibility of not making much money (although that's not always the case) then go for it.

Back on topic... Most opinions I've heard about recording school say experience beats study any day. If you can get into a big studio in some capacity you will get a lot more out of it. I don't know how possible that is in BC. Even here in London it's very hard as the studios keep closing. The few people who I've had in my studio who had studied audio engineering were useless. When I was talking about micing up acoustic gtr one guy told me that in 2 years he had not recorded anything through a mic; not drums, not guitar, not even vocals. That seems ludicrous to me. It seems as if schools in USA are better than here.

Interaction is the key. Whenever I met or watched an engineer working I invariably picked up some new thing I didn't know about (s/c compression, snare through distortion pedal, ducking vocal reverb, drum mic techniques etc etc). The Internet has some good stuff (and a lot of rubbish) on it but there's nothing like seeing and hearing it right in front of you and talking to the guy doing it on the spot. Anyway, enough from me. Good luck.
Old 26th September 2012
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OolalavSuperfukk View Post
Is it hard to find engineers willing to teach?
In my experience, HELL NO! Just shop around. Plenty of engineers that are willing to find a moldable brain to work with, that may eventually become an assistant.

In regards to things I won't bother quoting for readings' sake; learn some theory. It will be INCREDIBLY beneficial as an engineer. And hell, while you're at it, download a DAW so that you can test your ears over a white/pink noise filter with different notch EQs so you know what each frequency sounds like "in the mix of things".
Old 26th September 2012
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MJFI View Post
In my experience, HELL NO! Just shop around. Plenty of engineers that are willing to find a moldable brain to work with, that may eventually become an assistant.

In regards to things I won't bother quoting for readings' sake; learn some theory. It will be INCREDIBLY beneficial as an engineer. And hell, while you're at it, download a DAW so that you can test your ears over a white/pink noise filter with different notch EQs so you know what each frequency sounds like "in the mix of things".
Ok, well I won't be applying for any school for quite a while, so I'll definitely shop around as you suggest. I do have a DAW; however, I've never messed around with a white/pink noise filter with an EQ. I'm pretty much EQ illiterate. I usually know when I need to cut out some low or high end; however, some how (especially with vocals) I eventually destroy them and get disgusting frequencies and have a hard time fixing it. Is this a good technique to learn how to use an EQ or...?
Old 26th September 2012
  #19
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No; I would definitely suggest training your ears by using a white/pink noise generator and either using additive (to begin) and subtractive (when you get better) EQ to figure out what frequencies sound like in the grand scheme of things. This becomes much more effective when you can find a friend who will set the EQ bands for you without your knowledge and you have to learn entirely by sound what the "areas" (if you will?) sound like.
Old 26th September 2012
  #20
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Instead of paying 80,000 to learn how to record something come pay me 20,000 I will tell you how to record things then I will you make you record things. Then I will tell you that a Nuemann mic is really cool, then I will tell you that an SSL console is really cool. Then we will take 20,000 and go shopping for some gear to record with. That leaves you with 40,000 to grab a beverage or a sandwich and no loan.

Realize that
1 All recording schools are not always bad.
2 All recording schools are not always good.
3 Just because you go to school It doesn't mean you learn anything.
4 If you want some skewed advice call any Guitar Center in the country and ask for the guy that went to Full Sail. They will say which one, then you can ask him how he is doing paying off his student loans while making $7.00 an hour. He will bitch about how he can't even save up enough money for an mbox.
5This is the greatest time in history to learn about recording. There is so much information on line it will take your whole life to sort through the material.
6.) The best way to learn about recording is to do it and do it and do it.
7.) If you can't make a good recording with an mbox and a computer then you can't make a good recording with a million dollar studio.
8 The question is not whether you would be happier just making a living and doing something you love as apposed to being rich doing something you hate. It's whether you can survive making below the poverty level while looking for clients who don't have their own studio. All the while as you try to explain to your wife or significant other how you can't fix that hole in the house because you need this $3000 dollar preamp that will change everything for you.

Now it sounds like I am bitter or Jaded but I'm not. I am just crazy for doing this for over 20 years and making less than $20 grand a year. But I love music and it is the only thing I do well. I repeat you must be crazy to do this. It doesn't make sense to have a career in music.

I could say more, (I've been thinking about this for over 20 years) but the more I say the more you would dismiss and say I'm crazy.

Recording School's are for parents to try to convince themselves that their kids aren't losers. Back when music was good most of the people involved in making it were losers.

Of course you might be the very bright light that is the exception to this rule. By the way I wasn't joking about taking $20,000 to teach you how to record. Message me if your interested. (Smiley face thing)
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