Live Sound Engineering: Work It Or Study It?

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When it comes to the music industry, this is one debate that is age old. Do you study, then get a job, do you get a job/work experience and work your way up that way, or maybe even try and do both.

Today, music.co.uk thought we’d join in the debate, and take a look at sound engineers, those people who have that all important job behind the mixing desk making an act sound good. Just as in a recording studio, getting the balance right between the instruments, and vocals is vital, but which is the best way to learn, and get into the industry?

Well according to Jon Holland, a live sound engineer who has worked for a host of top acts, and in venues across the country, learning on the job could be the way to go. Here’s what he had to say on the subject:

“There are two main ways to get into live sound production. One is college/uni, then once you’ve qualified you start working your way up, and realise that a lot of what you’ve learnt at college doesn’t work in the real world, or you can learn on the job like I did. Shadow people, read books, get out and do it! The problem is there is a certain amount of luck doing it the way I did, and it’s hard to find a place to learn. If you do find a place, then it’s ‘right place, right time’ as to how you progress.

It’s very much a reputation based business, and a bit of paper from a college means very little in the industry. College is a good way to get in, if you can’t find a way of learning as you go, however don’t expect to come out and wave a bit of paper at people, and for them to care. You’ll still be making tea!

I also have a real dislike for the quality and methods with which the colleges teach sound to people, it’s too black and white, and usually the students finish a course thinking they know everything, and after not very long they realise they have to re-learn everything for the real world. And don’t get me started on these courses that cost a fortune for 3 months, and reckon they can teach everything in that time.

I think just get out there and do it. You already have the tools, and skills. Use your ears and learn how to interpret what you hear, and make it sound better. There is no right or wrong. , it’s very much a case of what works on the night is right, but there may be ten ways in which it will work.”

Some pretty solid, strong opinions there, but what do you think? Have you had any experiences good or bad when it comes to sound production, or do you have another topic you think we should discuss?? Get in touch!

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