These days telling people that you have made the decision to work in the music industry as stage crew doesn’t have the negative connotations it might have had in the past.
In the Sixties and Seventies rock music was seen as anti-establishment and declaring an interest in becoming involved was one step away from saying you wanted to run away with the circus.
Nowadays there are many specialised roles behind the scenes which are quite rightly seen as legitimate career choices, all of which require a defined skill set and the right training.
In the early days of the music industry, many people who went on to become successful engineers simply started out as a studio ‘tea boy’, picking up tips and learning lessons as they went along. On the live side, the mixing engineer was often a friend of the band who fell into the role to simply help out.
Today the level of technology involved is far higher and although the old ‘factory floor’ way of doing things is still a viable route to success; there are also many reputable learning courses that offer a legitimate alternative.
What to look for in a course
Being trained to become a sound engineer is different from taking a more traditional degree or other higher education course. For one thing, there is no real ‘industry standard’ qualification that is recognised in the same way as a degree from a top class university might be in another field.
What a sound engineering course can offer is the chance to learn from experienced professionals in a environment which is based around teaching and learning, rather than in a more stressful commercial ‘on the job’ situation.
This means that the quality and experience of those who will be leading the course is something that can affect the outcome to a great degree.
Learning the basics of how to operate a mixing desk is an important part of the process, but a general grounding in the physics involved in the mechanics of sound is also important.
Learning about dynamic range, decibel levels and wave forms all make up the basic grounding for a sound engineer’s knowledge and skills.
Of course there is far more to be learnt, such as handling speakers, setting up PA systems and mixing sound outputs in a variety of situations. All of these things involve having the confidence and ability to operate and maintain hi-tech audio equipment in a range of different settings and these are attributes that a good sound engineering course will provide.
Here’s a cool infographic via loveinfographics.com :