Ok, I’ve read the blogs and followed along with the forums and arguments. Everyone seems to have to have a different opinion on why you should or shouldn’t go to a music production school. As a graduate of said schooling, I feel like it is my turn to speak my mind.
I fell in love with music in my teens and began playing every instrument imaginable. Singing, songwriting, guitar, piano and everything else I could get my hands on. Quickly realizing I needed some way to share my art form I picked up a small audio interface and began spending many late nights googling every aspect of my newfound recording hobby. Fast forward to my senior year in high school and I was already pretty well grounded in my recordings.
A few solo albums under my belt and I had a decent knowledge of what I was doing with the tools I had been given. Coming out of high school the idea of going to a school like Full Sail or SAE sounded great. Beautiful, expensive gear. No more math or English classes. No “real” tests. Free laptops, software, and gear. And all of that was true and great for the most part.
But at the same time, there are things they so easily leave out. Like the fact that their curriculum is so watered down and basic in order to account for everyone’s skill set during the program (Our first class was literally how to use a computer). I already knew what an EQ was and the basic concept of how a compressor works from my time online, but for weeks they talked about the most basic fundamentals.
Another downfall is the fact that all of that beautiful vintage gear they have is so vintage, it’s usually broken! But that just comes with any territory, as most studio owners know.
The largest problem with the institutions though is this, the cost. With the internet and the resources available today (especially in the audio production world) you can get a better education for free in the comfort of your own bed. I could make a list of 100 blogs and videos right now that taught me more advanced techniques and ideas than I ever learned at my $40,000 schooling experience.
Another problem is that some things in audio arent black and white. Meaning that sometimes there is no “right” answer or “right” way to do something. Teachers in these schools will teach you how to do it “their way” but you will quickly find out in the real world that what you learned is not how it is always done.
Only to be fair, there’s another side to this story. Some people just don’t have the self-discipline to teach themselves.
I like to think of myself as someone who has a lot of motivation and drive to learn. I understand everyone is different though. Some people need to be in an environment where in order to learn they need to be given some help or taught in a special way. They need structure, they need tests and someone breaking it down for them.
This is the exact reason I may consider recommending a school like this to someone.
The other positive experience I took away from all of this is the simple fact of hands-on experience. I got my hands on some amazing gear that I’m honestly not sure I will ever touch again in my career. The ability to spend all of my free time learning, recording and exploring such vintage and sought after gear was an experience alone.
So to answer the question, should you go to a music production school? Probably not, simply because going into it your expectations will be too high and you will be let down. There are way too many resources at your disposal for free. Am I saying that going to an audio production school will be the worst decision of your life? Absolutely not. I can promise that you will gain a lot of valuable knowledge and real-world experience that the internet just can’t give you. Everyone is different and learns differently, and I think that is the most important thing to understand. Spend some time online and research everything. See what you’re capable of learning on your own. Understand your strengths and weaknesses. Ask a mentor or local engineer for help or guidance before taking the leap to enroll.