How to Choose A Recording School

by SaskMusic

August 5, 2009 in Recording & Production

In response to a flood of recent questions on this topic, board member Jared Kuemper of Creative House Studios kindly consented to write the following article.
Choosing a suitable recording school can be difficult. With so many decisions to make, it can certainly get confusing. The main thing to keep in mind is balance: Does the recording school offer a good balance of technical practice (actual time working with the equip-ment) & theoretical practice (time spent in class)? The audio industry is huge, so it's often good to decide what direction you would like to take with your education.

Education Options*
  • Short Courses and Seminars
These are specific studios necessary to the trade, or the first time introduction to a topic. They are popular among professionals for continuing education, to keep up with new technologies (i.e. the advent of digital audio workstations; the practice of non-linear editing).
  • Trade Schools
Their curriculum is ideal for students interested in a specific course study, such as classes necessary for licensing or union recognition. They can also be specific to a desired job or position. Often, career shifts may require a trade-type program.
  • One to Two-Year School Programs
12 to 24-month programs are for students seeking a degree, or interested in a long-term learning approach. These programs include a selection of courses that will lead to a diploma or certificate of completion
  • Four Year College and University Programs
Like 1 or 2 year schools, these facilities offer a field of study leading to a bachelor's degree, either specifically in the recording arts or in the larger field of communic-ations. Usually, these kinds of programs offer a blend of hands-on education with a proper grounding in theory, and a student can combine a recording degree with some type of music program.
  • University Graduate Programs
Graduate Studies are for those students who wish to continue a degree program for advanced professional studies. The programs are more popular for design engineers and those more interested in theory.

Finding an Internship

Here are few steps to guide a student seeking an internship:

1) Target a particular area of the country in which you want to work, ideally where there is some sort of support system (family and friends) that can help through an unpaid internship.

2) Research the area to locate facilities that may be working with clientele and/or equipment that is of interest. After this research, which sometimes includes "cold calls" to facilities, gather all of the information and make an educated decision on which company or companies should be pursued.

3) Based on the telephone conversation, send a cover letter and resume to the hiring manager, the studio manager, or whoever is in charge of personnel decisions.

4) Make a follow up call within a week after the resume has arrived. More times than not, the manager is kind enough to field a student's questions and offers time for an interview.

5) If accepted for the internship, the school placement department records the internship in the student's files and forwards a completion form, in which the supervisor grades the intern's performance.

6) Keep in touch with the school. It may be that next year's student is looking for a internship in your area and could use a few pointers. Remember what goes around comes around. And everybody entering the field could use a helping hand.


If you find yourself a bit confused as to what road to take and where to go to school, just follow your instincts; most of the reputable recording colleges will provide you with a completely detailed package that should include a full course outline specifying what topics will be covered and how many hours will be spent on each topic.

They should also provide you with a ratio of practical hours versus theoretical hours; full equipment lists; potential housing accommodations; and full tuition information.

Before you call the enrollment officer for information, have a few questions ready to ensure that you're not wasting your time on a school that is more concerned with making a quick buck, than with providing quality practical experience.

Be cautious of recording colleges and schools that also operate as commercial recording studios. Often the only reason a recording studio will provide this service is to help supplement their income. They are usually not concerned with quality, and more often that not, will provide you with a sub-standard education at an inflated cost.

If you need assistance locating a recording school, pick up a copy of Mix Magazine, EQ, or Canadian Musician at your local music store. Almost all of the more reputable recording schools will have large ads running in these magazines, or check out the Audio Engineering Society's Web-site at

In short, the audio industry is an ever-expanding horizon of opportunity; never before has there been more potential job opportunities, and potential for growth within the audio industry. Good Luck!
*"Education Options" and "Finding an Internship" are excerpts from the Mix Magazine article "Making The Grade" by Laurel Cash-Jones, published November 1997.

By Lorena Kelly for SaskMusic. Originally published February 1998.

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