In many cases, landing a job post-graduation has more to do with experience than the diploma.
Nathan Adam shows Chris Sy the ins and outs of studio recording at The Walnut House, where Studio LIFE is housed. (TMP/M. Hudgins)
Such is the case with students in the recording industry field – some need to be familiar with sound boards and audio programs, while others need to know how to manage bands and book and promote live shows.
Students sit through classes and learn textbook definitions, practices and techniques, but oftentimes, they don’t get the hands-on experience until their final semesters, or worse, during an internship that could take place after they graduate.
Having taught at MTSU for a number of years and now as an audio engineering professor at Belmont University, Nathan Adam has created an outlet for these students.
He invested in The Walnut House, located near the corner of Maple and West Main streets in downtown Murfreesboro, as an event and production space some four years ago. And last semester, he launched Studio LIFE, an organization open to all recording industry students who want that hands-on experience right now.
“I wanted to provide the hands-on experience to any ambitious students that they would get at an internship,” Adam explained. “This is place where people could get away, get ahead and develop that hands-on experience.”
Students from all over the country leave their hometowns to study the recording program at MTSU. Technology is such that they can purchase software and create an at-home studio, but Adam says a dorm room or college apartment doesn’t provide the environment of a truly functioning studio.
“This industry looks for people with experience,” he said. “(The Walnut House) is a place with a recording studio and a venue, so they can learn and actually be in a real life industry lab.”
Business management students can represent a band by booking shows and promotion. They also have an opportunity to organize an album recording and host a CD launch. Meanwhile, production students can run live sound during the shows and actually record the instruments and voices, and then edit them to be album-ready.
“We’re trying to prepare them in sync with what they’re learning at school because we want them to be able to put to use what they’re learning in classes,” Adam continued.
“It’s a great supplement to someone already in the program. I’m not trying to start a school; this is an experience organization. I want students to do well in school. I’m still a teacher in my core.”
Studio LIFE has its beginnings in Murfreesboro, but Adam sees it expanding to other markets and “anywhere students are looking to expand and build a network.
“If you don’t have the abilities yet, you can be surrounded by like-minded people here doing real things, getting experience,” he said. “If they get in here, I feel like they’re going to be top of their classes wherever they go.”
Chris Sy is a 22-year-old senior at MTSU studying recording industry and economics as a double major.
He’s been involved since with Studio LIFE since its inception and serves as the president of the organization.
“It’s everything I want to do at school, but they don’t provide the time to (do),” Sy said.
Students have to gain candidacy in the program before they can access a number of recording studios, which typically occurs in their second year at MTSU. And in order to schedule time in the studio, they have to be enrolled in certain classes and work exclusively on projects for those classes.
But at Studio LIFE, he can work with fellow students – some his age, some younger – and learn by mentoring.
“It’s awesome to see people learn things, and it helps me understand them more by explaining step by step,” Sy said.
Students interested in learning more about Studio LIFE can visit www.lifeinthestudio.com and attend one of the weekly meetings to sign up and pay the membership fee.