Commercial Music at American River College

Commercial Music at American River College

August 22, 2019 1 By Stanley Isaacs


Anywhere there’s music replicated or recorded,
there’s a job behind it. So I started out on the music side of it,
on that side of the glass. But, about in high school, I suddenly realized that I really
loved the tech side of things. It was a nice blend between those two things. Which
is something I try to bring to the students as well, to remember that in spite of all the buttons
and knobs and everything, it’s all about the music, the final result. [Piano and drums playing in recording studio] One of the cornerstones of our program, which
is different than most programs: hands-on, from day one we are hands-on. A lot of the
students in other institutions they go into a big lecture hall, they watch some guy talk
for over two hours and they go home. We give them some theory and immediately that very
day we break into labs and they start practicing and working with it. Many engineers will tell you, especially in
the professional field, there’s knowing the book knowledge as far as frequencies,
tones, and what the equipment does, and actually DOING what the equipment does, like getting
your hands-on, twisting the knobs, pressing the buttons, doing everything you need to
do to get your product to sound right. They structured it in a way to where you get
a base foundation first. So the first room that we got to work in was the room that’s
off to my right, it’s entirely analog. So there’s nothing in there that’s digital.
You’re controlling voltages from a microphone in and there’s no computers behind anything. They kinda start you out basically just capturing
the audio. So you track it, set up mics, like we did in here, just basically running signal
through, into the board first. And then in later semesters, like we are right now, we’ve
been working on things like mastering. So that’s when you take a finished mixed product
of a song, and you do just the final touch-ups, get all the levels set for it to be commercially
released. So we actually have two full recording studios
here at the college. We also have two editing studios, we also have a full 22-station computer
lab for our studios. So anything from project studio equipment all the way up to the best
and state-of-the-art equipment that you’d find in the biggest recording studios in the
world, we have here: from analog, hybrid, digital, you name it. Our faculty are working professionals. Our
recording studio faculty have gold and platinum album credits to their name. We have live-sound
company operators. We have the guy who writes all of the Pro Tools curriculum pieces that
you have to use around the world, he teaches our Pro Tools classes. The faculty is just super helpful, super hands-on.
Whereas if you go into another school that may have like, say 40 students a class, you
may not get that kind of attention. He’s probably the best teacher I’ve ever
worked with. He would help you figure out what was wrong. Not necessarily tell you,
“The reason why A isn’t working is because of B.” He would say, “Well A isn’t working.
Why is that?” And then he would work you through the process. If he knows your serious, he’ll be there
to be serious with you and work through problems that you have. Like, really dig in with you
and make sure you get it done the right way and how you want it to come out. We bring people in. So we have workshops,
we have seminars. I have a board of advisors, and they come and speak to the students. So
that is how they make the connection so that they can actually get experience, internships,
and also job placement through them. You are not going to get any education, any
hands-on kind of scenarios anywhere else, especially for this price. The value of this education is unbelievable.
So for one-tenth to one-twentieth of the cost of a private or 4-year institution, you get
as good if not better education at our program. And that’s what I found with AR is that
I am actually able to afford this. It’s not too crazy I can handle it while also working. Other competing college students have come
here and have been absolutely blown away by not only the amount of gear that we have,
but by how knowledgeable the faculty is. And just by how much they learn in comparison
to where they were at before. The fact that I can come into a ridiculously
well-thought-out, well-planned, well-funded studio—I just thing that what is offered
here, as far as what I get to do hands-on out of class and in class, is just unmatched.