Gear and Experience Make the Difference for the Vol State Recording Program

Submitted on September 20, 2010 at 9:38 AM

Sound engineers are the hidden talent behind every great recording, from pop and country to punk and opera. Volunteer State Community College has a Recording Industry Management Program heavily invested in the two most important aspects of recording: a top-notch engineer with serious commercial experience and a professional studio with the latest digital tools.

"Every piece of gear in here you will find in every major studio in town," said program coordinator Graham Lewis, as he shows off the Vol State recording studio. "This is what our students will see in a major studio. But you can have the greatest gear in the world and it won't do any good if you don't have the basic skills and theory."

As you might imagine, Nashville is an extremely competitive city for sound recording. Lewis has earned his chops in studios all over the city and by working with artists including Wynonna Judd, George Strait, Melissa Etheridge and Mark Knopfler.

"I had heard some of the musicians my dad worked with talking about the program at Vol State," said student Taven Royster of Hendersonville. "I got curious and asked around. That's why I came to Vol State, to work with Graham."

The gear used in the Vol State studio includes Pro Tools and Cubase software, and a brand new Avid Euphonix all-digital console. The College is one of the few in the country to have the digital board, which will fully integrate with Pro Tools.

"Vol State has some fantastic equipment that will help you transition into a commercial studio," said Benton Oglesby, a student from Mt. Juliet. Oglesby is taking his Vol State training to the next level this fall through a unique partnership with the highly respected Recording Industry Management Program at Middle Tennessee State University.

"I'm very excited. Only 50 students that applied were accepted into candidacy," said Oglesby. "I honestly don't think I would have been accepted at MTSU if not for the Vol State program.

Elliot Parry graduated from the Vol State program and after an internship went to work for Stroudavarious Productions, a high-power Nashville studio and label.

"My first credit as an assistant engineer was on a John Anderson CD," Parry said. "I walked into Wal-Mart to buy it. It was my moment."

Now Parry is on the road across North America, doing monitor sound for country artist Tracy Lawrence. Parry says the experience of working with so many musicians at Vol State helped to prepare him for working with professional artists.

"You never knew who was going to walk in to the Vol State studio. We did the spring music CD and had everything from R and B to classical guitar. And with that music you had 18 different personalities that came with it. You're helping someone make their dream."

Those dreams can become a reality with the Vol State resident engineer program. It allows experienced recording studio students to work directly with Vol State student musicians on projects.

"We have four or five student musicians doing projects currently," said Lewis. "Students who are registered at the College in credit classes can use the studio for free."

Math is quite important for prospective students and students hoping to advance in the field need to have high marks. In the end though, the most important quality is probably the most basic.

"You really need to have a love of music," said Oglesby.

For a complete list of studio gear and more information about the Vol State Recording Industry Management Program visit www.volstate.edu/RecordingIndustry

Vol State is holding an open house to show off the recording studio and the College radio station WVCP 88.5 FM. The free event will be held on Tuesday, September 28 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. in the College plaza next to the Ramer Building. There will be refreshments and tours. Everyone is welcome to attend. There is also an evening event planned for invited guests from the recording industry. The recording studio and radio station are located in the Ramer Building, rooms 167 and 169.

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