This is a blog from one of our former audio engineering students, Brenda L. Ford.
In 2007, I became a part-time student at the Omega School for Recording Arts and Sciences with the hopes of changing my career path to become a full-time audio engineer. I decided to enroll in the comprehensive program because I wanted to know about studio mixing and recording, live sound set ups and anything connected to ProTools, since that is the industry standard. In the middle of the program, I became a full-time federal government worker and decided to use the knowledge that I acquired at Omega for after-hours and weekend audio work.
The Audio Production School Experience
At age 44, I was one of the older students and, I believe, the only African American female taking the comprehensive program. Having worked many years in the Information Technology field, being the only woman of color was nothing new to me. The hours of study required were long and arduous and at times I REALLY questioned whether this was a good idea. After all, there were many engineers that I had come in contact with that were self taught and maybe I could become one of them. In the end, I am glad that I received formal training because it gave me a foundation that I would never have acquired on my own.
While I have been paid for some of my audio efforts, for the most part, most of my work has been done solely for the experience, and I am ok with that.
Life after Audio Engineering School
I’ve learned quite a few things about the ‘real’ world of audio engineering. My number one lesson is that sound/volume is subjective. What is loud to me doesn’t seem to be loud to others. Another lesson was that, while I love mixing live sound, I am too ‘mature’ to haul equipment and fulfill any roadie status. It’s not for me. I’ve learned that everyone doesn’t keep a clear console. I’ve had to work among wireless headset packs, papers, flashlights and pens among other things. An engineer really can’t work that way. Singers are some of the most demanding people to work with. All they know is that they can’t hear themselves or the music in the monitors. It doesn’t matter how many ways or times I try to explain to them that the peak lights on the monitor board are flashing. They have no concept of what that means and they don’t care. Just give them what they need.
Through it all, I have realized that recording and mix music really is my passion. Since Omega, I’ve been able to participate in overdubs for a national gospel project, assist in the recording and mixing of an entire project for a DC jazz artist, participate in front of house mixing at my church and establish my own home studio to do voice over demos and some vocal overdubs. In the near future, I will be involved in mixing, recording and producing a demo for a friend of mine and being an instrumental part of the next gospel project for Jimmy Russell and Because of Christ….from pre-production to mixing.
It’s an exciting time!