Audio Engineering Major #MajorMonday
Audio Engineering prepares individuals to apply technical knowledge and skills to the production of sound recordings as finished products or as components of film/video, broadcast, live, or mixed media productions. Includes instruction in sound equipment operation and maintenance; music, dialogue, and sound effects recording; sound track editing; dubbing and mixing; sound engineering; tape, disk, and CD production; digital recording and transmission; amplification and modulation; and working with producers, editors, directors, artists, and production managers.
Think about the music on an average car radio – tinny, compressed and clipped. Then imagine that action-adventure blockbuster film in surround sound in a movie theater with rolling, earth shaking explosions. Audiences appreciate the difference, and it is audio engineers who make it possible for sound to be more than just filler. Great sound is a key part of the entertainment experience.
For those who treasure sound, audio engineering is a career to explore. Audio professionals look forward to going to work, as they make a living following their passions. Recording, mixing, and producing music and sound for the television, film, music and video gaming industries is fun, challenging and rewarding. At Husson University’s New England School of Communications students can major in the Audio Engineering, preparing themselves for success in these exciting and diverse fields.
Audio engineering Associate Professor Walter Clissen brings more than 20 years of real-world experience to the classroom. Originally from Belgium, Clissen built a substantial career in audio while living in Paris. He moved to the United States where he continued his engineering career and eventually did some guest lecturing. “That pulled me into the academic world,” he says. He taught at the University of Arizona and the University of South Carolina. “At Husson, I saw incredible equipment, a committed faculty, and a place where my experience is valued. After all, the industry changes all the time and educators need to have their feet on the ground and working in the field to be relevant in the academic world.”
At Husson’s New England School of Communications, audio engineering students receive instruction in recording, mixing, and editing, a foundation in the physics of sound, signal flow and electricity, and an in-depth survey of popular music fundamentals. The school’s multiple hands-on labs allow students to learn engineering techniques from expert instructors and master the same equipment found in world-class studios. As part of the program, students gain knowledge and skills in music recording, broadcast audio, live sound, and post-production. Before graduating, students choose a capstone course that in which they either produce, record and mix a multi-song EP, or they capture, edit, and mix all the dialogue, music and sound effects for a film or TV post-production project.
Many students also choose to participate in school-sponsored internships. “While internships are not required, it is always good to introduce yourself in the market,” Clissen says. “Many times, internships can lead to an entry level job. Either way, students can pick up the latest skills. With internships, students can talk to other experts in the field. They can watch how others use professionalism and psychology in dealing with artists and producers. No matter what, you are only as good as your last record.”
Clissen says students should know that physics and math do play significant components in studying for the major, but students should not disregard the general education courses or learning a foreign language. “I recommend Spanish as there is a huge Latin market, especially in the music industry. It’s also critical to have good communication skills. I do believe that overall knowledge … geography, biology and chemistry … all that you can carry as a student helps.”
For audio engineering students, Clissen expects students to learn how sound works and then to put that science into practice. “They have to move from the theoretical to the practical. Knowledge becomes practice and the students have to translate that into the field. Students must bring that to the table and then work with people.” To that end, he recommends students grasp the “soft” skills of professionalism and good communication. “There is a psychology in dealing with artists and producers. You have to nurture them along and that’s so important,” he explains.
Clissen observes that there is a demand for audio engineering, especially those interested in the post-production market. “I tell students that they may find a band or artist to work with and start the process of taking their skills on the road. Then they can land a job in a studio. At the beginning of my career, it took time and passion to make things happen.”
It is that passion that Clissen hopes to share with his colleagues and students. “I am intrigued with music and sound. That passion compensates for the long hours and the time away from family. Students need to know this going into the field, but if you love art, music and telling stories with sound, this career can be fulfilling.”
Senior Kyle Kelson, originally from Becket, Mass., has been a musician his whole life. “I knew I wanted to do something with music. I was in all-state for singing, plus I play guitar, bass, drums and piano. I have been attending concerts since I could remember. As I have grown older, my interests have changed, but I knew I wanted to keep that strong musical aspect in my life. In high school, I talked with teachers and I was introduced to FL Studios, a simple music creation program. I didn’t know that it was called audio engineering then.” A career services spokesman from Husson answered his questions at a college fair. “I then researched some more and applied to only Husson University’s New England School of Communications.”
Kelson is now a senior at Husson and interning at Conway Recording Studios in Hollywood, California. “I knew I needed to explore the hubs within our industry and California seemed right. I decided to make a huge life choice and move.”
Clissen says Kelson is a great example of a good student who is moving from the theoretical and hands-on experience at the school to in-the-field experience. “I know I am still learning and that learning curve continues. It’s a balancing act to be in control at a session when dealing with artists and bands. Those soft skills are so critical. I want to make sure that the students are gaining these skills.”
For younger students, Kelson advises that they pay attention to their math and communications clases. “I draw the most on physics and calculus. I did my research when I decided on Husson (NESCom) and wanted a place where I could work hands-on. Other schools spend more time with textbooks and that is OK for some people; I am a kinesthetic learner. I have to be able to apply what I gain in the classroom or from a book. Husson surpassed my expectations.”
As for the future, Kelson wants to remain in the music industry. “I love music and the one-on-one time with artists. I enjoy working through the details and the possibilities. I have the ability to adapt and figure out problems. I did studio maintenance for four years and I advise any student interested in this field to look into this. I like being personal too, but not egotistical. I plan to continue to broaden my skills, as you never know everything. There is always a new technique or approach. Simply put, I like to learn.”
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To learn more about the Audio Engineering program at Husson University, visit their website. If you are interested in attending Husson University, visit their school page to learn more about their campus and degree options.