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Shopping for Sound Schools

Discussion in 'Education and Career Development' started by johnsonblake1, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. johnsonblake1

    johnsonblake1 Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm currently a freshman at the University of North Dakota(aka Wintery Hell), majoring in Atmospheric Science. I was heavily involved in theater production in high school, and have slowly begun to realize that it might have been what kept me sane through all that time. As part of that realization I have begun to shop for some theater tech schools.

    My interest is in sound reinforcement, not design. I see myself as more of a tech than a designer, that has always been my inclination. I guess my dream job would be a staff engineer at a resident theater.

    I have found a couple schools that fit what I'm looking for, but I want to draw from the knowledge base that is CB and find some more.

    Currently looking at:
    Columbia Chicago(I've always wanted to live in Chicago anyway)
    NY City College of Technology
    Michigan Tech(Although I don't think I would get in)
     
  2. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    If you want to get really deep into sound, look carefully and hard. There are lots of schools have sound concentrations involved in their tech theatre programs, but hardly provide enough of a basis to end up running audio for rock 'n roll gigs until you've racked up lots of experience post-college.

    Have you looked into SAE at all? It's a very focused program that does not last 4 years, but does provide a Bachelor's degree, and has access to some really nice studios for practicing in. Unfortunately, I have yet to stumble across anyone who has gone through their program
    News - SAE Institute

    However, Full Sail has tons of really awesome equipment, but it's almost a useless program because most of the students who leave there will never see that kind of equipment ever again in the field. The students at Full Sail have seemed to give it very high marks. The school does have a pretty bad reputation of people who graduated with their thumbs up their butts. From what I've heard, it's a good program, but YOU have to be the one to take something out of it. You can get involved as little as you like, or as much as you like, but it's hardly guaranteed you'll be prevented from graduating if at the end of the program you haven't learned what you needed to for becoming a good audio engineer. There's a couple other threads on Full Sail that you may want to check out, but just tread lightly as you will have to defend your reputation after-the-fact because having Full Sail on your resume tends to be anything but a selling point.
    Full Sail University: Campus and Online Degrees

    I think part of the question you need to look at, is how much you want to do as an sound technician. Are you going to focus on theatre-related stuff, or would you like to end up doing the huge rock concerts? Which program you partake in will probably guide you towards one or the other, so it's best to make a conscious decision ahead of time.
     
  3. museav

    museav CBMod CB Mods Departed Member

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    Since you seem willing to relocate, I'll throw in my alma mater Purdue University. They offer several options that you might consider.

    In the Arts program, they offer an undergraduate BA degree with a minor in Theatre Design and Technology (Theatre Design and Technology Minor : College of Liberal Arts : Purdue University). You could also continue on to an MFA in Theatre Engineering (Theatre Engineering : College of Liberal Arts : Purdue University).

    If you want a more technical oriented option, within the School of Engineering Education there is an Interdisciplinary Engineering program which offers a BS in areas such as Theatre Engineering Studies and a Multidisciplinary Engineering program which lets you work towards a BSE in areas such as Acoustical Engineering (https://engineering.purdue.edu/ENE/Academics/Undergrad/IDE/plans), the Acoustical Engineering plan of study can be arranged to include numerous theatre technology and design courses along with the required core engineering courses.


    You might also want to look at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Sound Design program, Design and Production | Programs.
     
  4. DavidDaMonkey

    DavidDaMonkey Active Member

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    While we are at it, I guess I will speak up for my Alma Mater as well: Belmont University in Nashville, TN. It is geared towards the music side of things rather than the theater, but has some classes that are broad enough to serve in both regards. They have an Audio Engineering Technology degree in which you can do a BA or a BS path. The BS sounds right for you.

    There are two stellar studio maintenance classes which really get you taking apart boards and testing circuit paths and building pre-amps from scratch. Its pretty neat.

    There are also two live sound reinforcement classes that give you plenty of hands on experience. By the end of the advanced course, you have the opportunity to mix FOH or monitors for a very large scale multi-act concert on a Venue or a PM5D or the like.

    The school also has a fairly small but dedicated theater program. The best thing about the size of it is that you could easily get in at the beginning as their sound guy and make a niche for yourself all 4 years. I did more of the acting side while I was there, but I had a friend who decided he wanted to learn lighting his Freshman year, attached himself to the theater program, and within a year and a half was their ME and head LD. They were just constructing a pretty nice off campus theater as I was graduating, so it should be pretty new and offer plenty of modern opportunities.

    I was in the first graduating class of the AET major, and it was pretty awesome then, so I can only imagine what it's like now.
     
  5. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    I would suggest looking into some electrical engineering programs at schools with good theatre programs. This approach isn't for everyone, but I feel like an EE degree will really give you an edge in terms of understanding the why and how in terms of equipment function, and not just the what (if that makes any sense). You'd have to be willing to learn about more abstract concepts and applications, but if you can take that and apply it to sound then you'll be doing quite well. U.Va. has a decent EE program and a good theatre program too, but there are lots of other schools you might consider as well.
     
  6. waynehoskins

    waynehoskins Active Member

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    I've got the same idea as Mike. I started as an EE major and switched to theatre quickly after the theatre bug caught up with me again and I found the department. But I did take a few EE classes as electives after I switched. They're useful to have, since being in entertainment production we pretty much deal with the same sorts of stuff, just differently.

    If UT Arlington still had its old Engineering Technology department (disappeared in the late '60s), I'd probably have tried to minor in that. I kinda wished I'd actually minored in some kind of engineering since I'm a database guy by day now; some CSE classes would have been nice.

    Advice from hindsight: take a handful of engineering classes. Mechanical and Electrical (and with softwarey stuff being more prevalent, CSE) will broaden your knowledge base and technical understanding of how things work.

    A few classes from the music department might help as well. UTA didn't have any courses in sound under the theatre department (except a lecture or two in Stagecraft II), so for the fun of it I took a recording class from the music department. I enjoyed it and learned a couple of things.

    I don't remember much of Taylor series and McLauren series and loop currents and node voltages and such, at least equation-wise, but all the basic concepts will help you. Signal flow and troubleshooting will be very important things to learn.

    But those are just my rambling ideas .. note that I got my BFA in theatre design and production, and I work as a database guy and do theatre on the side. The broader your education base, the better you'll be.
     
  7. johnsonblake1

    johnsonblake1 Member

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    Thanks for all the input everyone!

    This gave me a lot of ideas for continuing my search. I have now applied to Purdue, Michigan Tech, and Columbia.

    I like the EE idea, but I don't think I want my primary degree to be a BSE. My theory is that since those degrees are 150 credits in order to prepare you to sit for the PE exam that I would end up wasting time I could otherwise spend in theater electives. That being said I do like the idea of taking plenty of EE courses. Since I would never intend to work as a professional engineer, it would be a little much to get the BSE.
     
  8. mbenonis

    mbenonis Wireless Guy Administrator

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    I am not sure what school(s) you are looking at, but my BSEE degree requires only 130 credits, and I am not planning on taking the PE exam (in fact, it's rarely discussed in my program)... I know I've had time to take theatre electives as well during my time at U.Va... :)
     
  9. johnsonblake1

    johnsonblake1 Member

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    Thanks for the clarification, I must have misunderstood something I read.

    With that cleared up then, does anyone know of any EE programs that offer a concentration in audio systems? My googling skills are failing me here.

    EDIT: Engineering Technology programs count as well!
     
  10. MNicolai

    MNicolai Well-Known Member Fight Leukemia

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    There seems to be a shady area between Acoustical Engineer (which is only a PE in one state, I believe) and audio engineer. I don't know of any PE's that are entitled audio engineer; most people that have that title have given it to themselves as it's a loosely used term. If you want a really focused audio program, you can look at SAE, but I suspect if you want the BSE, then you will probably want to take a related engineering program and supplement that with other classes and studies to twist the audio into it.
     

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