If you’re considering becoming an audio engineer or recording engineer, you’re probably thinking about attending university for audio engineering. Enrolling in recording school is a definite path forward. It’s absolutely something that a lot of people who end up working in the industry do.
However, it’s also understandable that you would want to weigh your options. That you would want to investigate the various avenues ahead of you. As with anything, a lot of that answer will depend on what type of education you’re looking to receive. That, more often than not, is determined by what school you attend.
When most people think of recording school, they’re thinking of the typical college course or trade school that follows a more traditional, structured learning format. They think of classrooms, books, tests, and a standardized curriculum. They think of students working away on projects, in a place where everyone is attempting to make interesting work in the relative safety of academia.
There will usually be some sort of hands-on learning aspect to these programs, but it remains centered within campus classrooms and labs. An instructor will be responsible for teaching you in a class of other students, who will all be roughly about your skill level. The general idea is that learning in this protected environment will give you the knowledge and skills you need for the real world.
Traditional Recording School Pros and Cons:
- Standard curriculum that is relatively easy to follow
- Basic knowledge and understanding of the recording process
- Introductory knowledge of equipment
- Training on current software
- If in college, general education requirements give a “well-rounded” approach to training
- Networking opportunities with the future industry professionals
- The ability to fail and how it does not really impact your professional standings
- An educational system that allows you to learn at your own pace
- Fellow students to talk about the lessons and classes with and build a community out of
- Teachers who have the experience of long careers
- Can be very expensive (from around $20,000 on the low end to over $100,000 on the high end)
- Takes 1-4 years to complete
- Competing with other classmates for instructor’s attention and time on the gear
- Gear/software aren’t always up-to-date
- Little or no “real-world experience” or problem-solving practice
- A degree/diploma in this field is not widely seen as needing a degree by industry professionals
- Difficult to make job-producing connections
Why are there so many “cons” to this approach to education? Basically, the recording industry is a very practical, very relationship-driven business. The working pros tend to prioritize real-world experience and connections over diplomas. Many traditional recording school graduates find out they must still work in unpaid internships just to earn the respect and trust of the people doing the hiring. They have to prove that they have the skills and knowledge base to perform the tasks at hand.
THE MENTOR-APPRENTICE ALTERNATIVE APPROACH
To address these issues, the Recording Connection has developed the “mentor-extern” approach, in which we pair each student with a mentor who is a working producer/engineer in a real recording studio. All training occurs on the job in a real-world environment. Pros and cons of this approach:
- Much less expensive to train each student (under $13,000)
- 1 year or less to complete
- One-on-one training with a professional mentor
- Practice on current gear and software that is actually being used in the studio
- Learn problem-solving skills by assisting on actual recording sessions
- Learn how to work with clients by actually doing it
- A structured curriculum ensures all bases are covered
- Gain valuable real-world experience while you learn
- Make connections that can lead to future work
- If you’re the type of person that wants a fallback, this isn’t going to get you a four-year degree
- You’re not going to be getting a traditional college experience
- No connections with fellow classmates that could develop into opportunities later in life
- You will be in a fast-paced actual work environment, which could be a bit stressful
The music industry isn’t going anywhere, but it is always evolving. That’s why it’s so important to learn in the right environment. To gain your knowledge from people who know what they’re talking about and who have literally been in the trenches. To learn more about the benefits of our recording school alternative via the extern (mentor-extern) approach, click here.