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Q. I want to be a Sound Engineer, where do I start?

By Chris Mayes-Wright

I'm a 25 year old lawyer working in Bombay, India, but I'm not really satisfied with what I'm doing or where my career is headed. I'm interested in sound engineering and feel like I want to make a career out of music but there aren't many opportunities here, and I don't want to be a sound engineer working on Bollywood films! I would ideally want to work and become a sound engineer either in the UK or in the US, as I prefer Western music. So I was wondering if SOS could advise me in some way because I'm really really confused about my future.

Gaurav Gurnaney

News Editor Chris Mayes-Wright replies: I've got good news and bad news: the good news is that there are loads of courses on offer, some of which can be studied 'from home' — check out Point Blank's on-line courses at www.pointblanklondon.com. The bad news is that there are thousands of music technology students fighting for just a handful of jobs, and that's in the UK alone.

But I don't mean to sound negative. In fact, a colleague has two friends who both came to the UK from the Bollywood scene in India. They are now both working in the industry, and are getting paid!

If you're planning on coming over from India to study in the UK, you may be able to apply for a bursary scheme from your government, or enlist on an international student scholarship programme from a UK institution. It may be worth contacting the British Council in Bombay, and their education web site, www.educationuk.org, is certainly worth a visit. If you don't get any joy here, the standard method of application for UK degree or HND courses is through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. It allows you to apply for up to six different courses at different institutions, and over 55,000 overseas students used it last year. You can apply on-line, too, from anywhere in the world, but bear in mind that using the UCAS system, applications for courses starting in September must be submitted earlier in mid-January of the same year. Note also that course fees for international students are generally higher than they are for UK or EU students.

As you're wanting to study sound engineering, you should also consider studying at one of the handful of specialised audio colleges, many of which are listed in the classified advert section of Sound On Sound. London-based Alchemea (www.alchemea.co.uk) generally offer shorter courses than universities, but limit class sizes to 10 and give you intensive hands-on experience with industry-standard equipment. You'll find that with most private colleges, fees are the same across the board.

Another option is SAE, a worldwide organisation who have three colleges in the UK. More to the point, and more convenient for you, they have six institutions in India, one of which is in Bombay! SAE Bombay (www.saeindia.net) offer audio, multimedia and film-making diploma courses and, by the looks of the web site, have fairly well-equipped facilities. Good luck! 

Published December 2006