If your chosen course offers work experience as well as college based training
then you are in luck! This has to be the best way to learn your future trade.
Not only that, but if you impress the people at your work placement then they
may be willing to give you a reference when the time comes for job hunting for
But work placements are not all fun and games. When I worked as a theatre
sound engineer we used to take trainees one day a week, and what a useless bunch
we got, on the whole. I remember one chap who would bring in his copy of the
Daily Mirror and spend all day reading it! Maybe we weren’t doing as much
as we might have to encourage the students, but we all had jobs to do, and anyway
those who were really keen didn’t need any encouragement, they found themselves
a little niche in the task in hand and got on with it. These exceptional people
were rewarded by paid freelance work at evenings, weekends and holidays and
some have gone on to significant achievements.
Unfortunately, work experience in recording studios is difficult to manage
so it is not often offered. The problem is that novices are very conspicuous
to the acts and producers using the studio, and studio managers are scared to
death of a trainee saying the wrong thing, or putting too many sugars in the
coffee, and it is only the most enlightened studio owners and managers who realise
the importance of developing keen young talent. If you want to work in a studio,
definitely go for a course that can get you into one, preferably a good one.
You may have to do menial tasks until you have proved yourself, but how can
you prove yourself unless you’re on the inside?
The model student
When I was a student I was a pain in the neck for the department and I regret
it now. I had the attitude that I knew what I wanted to learn and apart from
that I would learn the bare minimum. Such resources gone to waste, for which
I apologise without reservation. Still, you always know when it’s too late,
but maybe I can make amends by offering my advice, with 20/20 hindsight, on
how to get the best out of a course.
The first and most important point I can make is that when you are at college
with other students you are, like it or not, a member of a team. The better
the team performs, the more you will achieve personally. Put it the other way
– if one member of the team slows down, the others will have to slow down too.
I find, as a lecturer, that if I feel the group is involved and interested in
what I am doing or saying then the whole learning experience is faster and more
effective. But if one person decides to take it easy, then another one will,
then another, and so on until a sizable group of people are working well below
capacity and wasting time and money.
The second point is that you will probably have a very clear idea of what
you want to achieve from the course and you’ll find that your lecturers
are asking you to do things or become involved with things that don’t fit
in with your plans. My advice is to give everything your best shot, even if
you never think you’ll have a need for that knowledge in the future. Remember
that the world changes faster than you think, and that different disciplines
are being brought together in unexpected ways. Another aspect of this is that
you may have your own strong ideas or feelings on a particular subject. Ideally,
your lecturers should use your views as another input to the group, but sometimes
they may be so locked into their own way of doing things that they don’t
understand and are disinclined to listen to what you would like to say. In this
situation, put your viewpoint to one side for the moment and try to take in
what your lecturer is saying. He may be wrong, but at least you will have gained
the advantage of another person’s experience.