Record Like a Pro @ GCC

October 9, 2015

Ever wonder what it takes to record music for radio, TV, or video games?

Walk into GCC’s Music Department and you’ll find students recording music with ProTools – the same software used in professional recording studios. Students in GCC’s Audio Engineering and Music Production classes learn on the Music Department’s new digital audio workstations run with ProTools and industry standard audio recording and editing equipment.

Think you need to be a famous musician or a tech geek to record music?

Think again! GCC’s Music Department is committed to their “Start Where You Are” philosophy and to making learning about music accessible to everyone. Students taking GCC’s music production classes include people of all ages and backgrounds, some who’ve never taken formal music lessons, music lovers who want to know how recordings are made, those wanting to learn how to use their own recording equipment or explore careers in audio engineering, and performing musicians. With two fully equipped recording and monitoring stations and 16 lab mixing and editing stations, GCC students from all backgrounds work with ProTools, digital control surfaces, analog mixers, and digital processing and effects equipment.

“Everyone is involved in music in some way and learning about how recordings are made can give anyone a more dynamic relationship with music,” said Lysha Smith, 34, from Shelburne. “I really appreciated being in class with a wide range of people who brought their different perspectives to our recording work.” Lysha is a Music major at GCC studying toward an Associate degree in Music and planning to transfer to UMASS to pursue a Bachelor’s degree.

Andy Mathey, 41, from Colrain, took Audio Engineering and Music Production courses at GCC from Music Department Chair Matthew Shippee. He said, “I had suffered trying to decipher ProTools on my own, at home. I was able to record tracks, but was blind to the very reasons ProTools is the industry standard. Recording and production work is standardized on ProTools, making really complicated tasks ridiculously easy and fun. GCC’s courses are a hidden gem making high quality recording technology accessible to the average musician. Just owning the equipment doesn’t translate to proficiency. I never would have figured this out on my own without instruction. Through two semesters, putting to practice what I learned working on mini-projects and a final project, those skills gave me the freedom to use the digital audio workstation like I was, in fact, sculpting sound.”

Lysha learned that sculpting sound takes more than just technical skills. He said, “While technical skills are important, I also learned about the importance of pre-production work and collaboration between the musicians and audio engineers. A musician’s sense of inspiration and real art is hard to capture, so the more work done preparing ahead of time, the better the recording will be. You have to be ready to capture it when inspiration comes to the musician and the recording engineer. Studio engineers need to make on-the-fly decisions that impact the quality of the recording.”

Shippee said, “GCC’s Music Department invites everyone to explore music production with industry standard equipment and techniques and to move forward from wherever they are in their knowledge and skills. GCC’s equipment and courses are fairly unique in our area. GCC has offered music technology courses since 2008 and plans to expand our curriculum in the future to create a certificate in music production.”

Want to hear work done by Andy, Lysha, and other GCC students?

Check out videos of student recording sessions done by GCC Audio Recording and Production students of performances by GCC’s Vocal Jazz and Contemporary Music Ensembles. The performances were all captured live (no edits or overdubs) and were recorded by GCC students. Video recording and editing of the session was done by Garry Longe from GCC’s Educational Technology office.

Jazz:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeKLhhLH2i4 and Contemporary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eiLx616MReQ

To learn more about GCC’s Music Production courses, contact Matthew Shippee at 413-775-1228 or shippeem@gcc.mass.edu.

By Mary McClintock ’82

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