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how to choose a music production school

Finding the right place to study will require careful research - whatever you do don't just jump at the first thing that you stumble across or visit.

In this article I've listed some of things that you'll want to consider when it comes to choosing the right music technology course for you. Most of these factors could equally be applied to other types of music courses, such as degrees in music composition or performance. You could if you like be methodical and give the college or university that you research or visit a score out of ten on each of the factors, and then add the numbers up at the end and compare your findings with other music colleges.

Remember that it is unlikely that one music school or college will have all the things that you are looking for, and so you will probably need to make some kind of compromise.

A list of factors to consider in your decision:-

Staff in the music department

Campus and location of the college

Quality of the facilities and music gear available


Staff in the music department

Here I would suggest looking out for four things:-

1. The qualifications of the lecturers

2. The music industry or professional experience of the lecturers

3. The ratio of staff to students

4. The tutors abilities as teachers

Normally a music tutor will have a M.A. or Phd in some field of music. Check that there is at least one member of staff that has post-graduate qualification with specialisation in music technology or production. (For example, New York University runs these kinds of post-graduate awards). It’s also important to find a music department where one or two of the lecturers have real music industry experience, preferably with music production credits. See if you can find out the ratio of staff to pupils – don’t be misled by a long list of staff and facilities, as these resources may be stretched thinly across hundreds of students. Lastly, and perhaps the most difficult but important thing to test, is the abilities of the tutors at actually teaching. In your interview, do they come across as approachable? Do they communicate well? Is there anything on youtube where you could see them in action, or do you know of anybody that has been taught by them? Somebody may have incredible music credentials, but if their teaching skills are poor they will be of little use to you.


Campus and location of the college

This is where you will be working (and often living) for at least the next three years of your life. The feel of a campus is very difficult to gauge by a photograph – to gain an idea of it you’re going to need to visit it. Whether or not you like it may be dependant on a number of factors – for example, it may be quite small but you like it because it feels like it has a strong community spirit. Or perhaps you prefer to be part of something large with a lively night scene and you like the vast resources that a large university can offer. Some older colleges have very beautiful architecture. Does the location inspire you? Also, if you go for an interview, try to have a look round the city or town where the music college is based. Do you like it? Could you live there? Remember that doing a degree is a life experience, as well as a qualification. You may also want to research the likehood of employment prospects after college life. How many music studios are in the region? You may want to begin making contact with these facilities before your course finishes (it's worth checking out if the local university has any links with these studios, like visiting speakers or placements). Some areas of the USA (like Nashville and New York) are key areas to live in in order to network into the music business.



Quality of the facilities and music gear

I’ve listed this last because if you’re music technology minded it’s quite likely that this is the first thing you’ll be instinctively impressed by, especially if at home all you have is a laptop and a keyboard! These days, many Universities and music colleges boast excellent studio facilities and recording gear. All though this is important, try not be too taken in by it. That said, here is a quick checklist. These things should be pretty much standard at any good music schools offering music production:-

  1. * a separate control room and live room

  2. * high quality control room monitoring

  3. * high quality microphones and microphone pre-amps

  4. * music technology training with one of these three leading DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstations) – Protools, Logic (Mac only) or Cubase

  5. a number of computer/keyboard set-ups with DAW’s installed

You will also want to ask how easy is it to gain access and time on these facilities – find out how many students are currently enrolled across all the years and compare this with amount of studio/workstations available. It may be the best gear in the world but if you can only use it one hour a week it won’t be much help! Also, If the college offers other music courses, such as performance studies, this may be a real plus for your work, as you will have ready access to a large pool of musicians who you can approach to us as recording artists on your projects.





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