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Q. Can you help me make the most of my studio work experience?

By Mike Senior
Published July 2001

I want to get into record producing as a career. So far, I have contacted a local studio that is allowing me to come in for a try‑out during a session, to assist the engineer, hook cables, and so on. I'm a bit nervous, as I've done home recording but a professional studio environment is new to me. Any advice so that I don't embarrass myself and even maybe impress them a bit? Also, any advice on getting into this as a career?

Bill Ricchini

Assistant Editor Mike Senior replies: So far you seem to be doing just the right things to achieve your aim. In the studio, just make sure you don't get in the way, and stay alert to learn what you can. Don't expect to impress anyone when you first get into the studio, because it's more likely to backfire and cause someone to get annoyed. Much better to simply avoid being a nuisance. Some may disagree with my judgement, saying that it is important to show enthusiasm and energy by offering help. It is true that being enthusiastic is important, but you need to show this without the risk of seeming pushy and without niggling anyone. I'd say that the best way to show enthusiasm is by being conscientious in the tasks that the studio staff give you of their own

volition, rather than by pestering them for things to do. If you make the tea well, they might think you're made of the right stuff and get you doing more interesting things.

One down‑to‑earth piece of advice, as well. Keep some paper and a pencil in your pocket, and write down anything you need to remember — this is likely simply to be beverage orders and preferences at first, or a shopping list for the local general store. (Don't be writing right under anyone's nose, or they'll probably take the piss.) This activity will pay off the little effort it requires; it certainly did so for me on countless occasions. One of the things which will impress a studio most is if they feel that you're reliable, and writing things down means that you don't have to rely on your memory when trying to remember how all the different members of the string section take their coffee at 3am...

As for general careers advice, David Mellor's four‑part 'How To Become A Recording Engineer' series ought to give you a lot of useful pointers. It ran in 1999, so it's now free to view on our web site — here are the URLs. If you need more info, try the web site's search engine.