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training a newbie...
Old 31st January 2003
  #1
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
training a newbie...

someone must have some advice for training someone who doesnt know dick about audio... wasnt this the way it was done before the influx of audio schools?

i have a new person who doesnt know anything but wants to learn bad so i have decided to take them under my wing... plus it would work nicely if i had an assistant that i trained to work how i work

so how do y'all go about doing this with newbies? unfortunately my head is full of **** i have learned over the years and dont want to just barrage them with information.

they are starting monday... im kinda going to throw them in the deep end since i have a session that day. i plan on having them show up a couple hours before and show them some basic stuff and then ill have them help me on the session to kind of see how it works in practice.
Old 31st January 2003
  #2
Lives for gear
 
Messiah's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Tell them to learn to be invisible. Seriously!

I think you've got to give them the most easy, tedious, boring roles to concentrate on first (running errands, making coffee, turning equipment on/off, tape op'ing if they're steady!) and it's up to them to observe, study and ask questions when the time is right. BUT ONLY when the time is right.
I wouldn't bother trying to share your whole philosophy of recording with them until you're sure they have potential. I find assigning them to the patchbay is a good way to evaluate them quickly, and relatively harmlessly, because they'll usually either understand it quickly or freeze with fear when you ask them to put a compressor on channel 1's inserts!!

I've done a few "favours" for people and took guys in the studio with me. My experience is that they either think they know it all already and want to tell you all about it, or, they're more into the notion of working in a studio and get bored pretty quickly and become unreliable. DAW's have a lot to answer for, IMO!! Every Tom, Dick and Harry seem to think they can engineer and produce because they've got a cracked copy of Cubase on their PC!

I had a classic one recently. Last year, I was teaching part time in an arts college in Liverpool. There was one guy I was teaching who was constantly badgering me to let him assist me on a session. In the end I decided to give him a break and took him to a session with me with the instructions that he was to sit at the back of the control room and tape op, not get in the way and not pass any comments on the bands music/parts. He didn't tape op much, was constantly pulling his chair up to the center of the desk and asking me "what's this button do?" (getting in my way in the process), and he made several comments about the guitar sounds with the band present. Most annoyingly he saying things like "the snare is too loud" when I was tracking! (Aargghh!!) He lasted 3 days.

Just before Xmas, I was in Great Linford Manor studios producing a Danish band when I got a phone call from this guy. He was apologetic about his actions during the aforementioned session and asked if I would give him another chance. Because I was pretty busy, I palmed him off by saying I'd think about it and talk to him when I was back in Liverpool. He then said that he was hoping he could come to the studio right now because he was in Milton Keynes (nearby to the studio) and he had 8 hours to kill before he could get a lift back to Liverpool!! Needless to say, I told him to f*ck off!!
Unbelievable or what!!

Alphajerk, you will be doing well if they don't increase your workload and test your patience to the max!!heh
Old 31st January 2003
  #3
Gear Guru
 
NathanEldred's Avatar
 
7 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
Very positive outlook! Ok, SM, so when do I start?
Old 31st January 2003
  #4
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
Slipperman's exactly right. But for a first day (or even for a first week), I'd go along with the "Sit in the back of the room and be quiet approach, but give her a notebook and and a pencil.

As you work through the day, be vocal about what you're doing (especially if the client is NOT in the room). You''re not trying to teach her everything in one day, but you're kind of speaking your thoughts aloud as you work. Her job is to write down every question she has, along with enough of the situation to remind you of the circumstances. At breaks or at the end of the day, you'll need to be ready to sit down and answer questions and explain what the hell you were talking about.

Since you're not really trying to train an intern, but an assistant/right arm, then the extra time for the two of you to discuss the day is mandatory.

Also give her homework - Modern Recording Techniques or the equivalent may start preparing her for the theory that you're practicing.

That'll take care of the first few days, and kind of let her know if it's something that she wants to do...
Old 31st January 2003
  #5
Gear Nut
 
20to20's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Very well put, Slipperman...

Great advice for any ol' Studio Rat dealing with the desire
to share and pass along 'The Knowledge'...

Wonderful to catch a glimpse of what is obviously your big heart...

Thanks
Old 31st January 2003
  #6
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Messiah,
I know where you're coming from and I would have dealt with the bleeder in the same manner as you. But you can't tar everybody with the same brush, so I would aspire to the Slipperman approach.
I sat around studios for years not really learning anything, 1. You don't want to speak in case you piss someone off and 2. it was just all so confusing to me. It was only after a couple of guys took an interest in me, showed me a few things and did the thinking out loud thing that I really started to learn.
Old 31st January 2003
  #7
Founder
 
Jules's Avatar
I try to get the emphasis on - you are here not so much to 'watch me' but to "work" on this session.

Inexperienced forms of 'working'

The couch is WAY out of bounds, that's for clients only.
Leap out of the 'best spot' the moment a client come in.
Look "ready to jump up" not 'comfortable'
Every new visitor is asked if the want a drink
Clean up - THROUGHOUT THE DAY
offer to do cigarette / food runs
Help hand guitars / open doors, lead clients to the mic, hand em headphones.
Announce to me when they have completed a task.
Answer / screen phone calls / get the door
nothing to do? Have you asked me? OK then, look at a manual or pay attention to the session

Basically I ain't a good enough typist to list all the stuff, but in a nutshell, my assistants are VERY busy with waiter /waitress / cleaning duties. They are DEFINETLY service staff, at the very visible service of the studios clients.

OF COURSE during all this they get to watch me work.

I drill them to KEEP TRACK OF THE CONVERSATIONS IN THE ROOM - the key objective - TO LISTEN OUT FOR WHATS TO BE DONE NEXT - and see if they can help in any way speed up preparation for that task.

Alpha - Monday tell em they didn't get the job to sit and watch, tell em they have a job working in a studio as part of the team.

My assistants are assistants & cleaners - THATS the gig.

mop the floor
Clean the toilets
buy supplies
Make tea & coffee
Run errands
CDR copies
Back ups
Load in / out gear with the bands
Etc...

I get agitated if they are just sitting around doing nothing, I cultivate and atmosphere / habit of "keeping busy" - all quiet? Fix the headphones then!!!

I allow reading of studio and music mags in lull periods when no clients are in and we are having a chilled day after a heavy work phase..

Delegation rules!

Alpha re-read Chris Stones book "The Sound Of Money"

Old 31st January 2003
  #8
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
okay... maybe i should explain my studio a bit and what i am actually doing. i am NOT hiring [yet]... this is UNPAID instruction [in fact i might work this as a barter with her so i get kickbacks... not those kind ya pervs]

slipperman is on the right vibe of what im trying to do. i am taking on an apprenttice... dave, the books are a good idea. i have a ton of them i can let her borrow to read over. like i said in my other post, this girl has a REAL attention to detail and goes into things 100% and nothing less... so i will know one way or the other after monday.

aside from putting things up from the session, there isnt any "cleaning" to do... the toilets are clean [well, one is in the middle of a remodel], the "typical" runner abuse stuff isnt going to happen in my joint. she is here to learn one thing and that is the art of recording. i am trying to train a NEW person... she isnt going to have any preconceived notions of what to do... no ideas on how to do something that she would differently [yet]...

i think monday will be a rundown of where everything is in the studio before the session starts along with what everything is [different mics, what stands, which cables, etc]. the session is going to be bass overdubs and experimentation. then let her witness the tedious nature of recording to see if she can handle that... to me thats what REALLY seperates the men from the boys [err girls... err people], although i have a feeling she can handle this. i have come across many people who cant listen to a song over and over while working on it.

so any more ideas along these lines?
Old 31st January 2003
  #9
member no 666
 
Fletcher's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Books are good... that way, at the end of the day, she can read up on what just happened [gee, compressor... so that's what it is]... I would also suggest [not knowing if you have an inboard or outboard patchbay... or any patchbay at all] that she sit by the patchbay and observe it's operation.

Seeing as an onboard patchbay is usually located by the side of the desk, this will probably be the most useful vantage point, as long as it's not in the way of the normal flow of operations.
Old 31st January 2003
  #10
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i have a quirky setup regarding my patchbay... its outboard, and mainly houses effect units and aux sends and subgroups. mic pre lines are run straight to the ADC, and my snakes run hardwired to the pres. i can choose where the mics go to corresponding tracks within DP. i dont compress to disk [because i am at a lack of compressors... seriously. my next purchases... a pair of distressors, an 1176, a la2a, and some other odds and ends... i only have 3 rnc's for compressors right now... of course after i buy these my patchbay will change again and i will pull all board routing out of it staying digital from there on out... as well as a feed from my DAC's to the patchbay for my furman more me monitoring system]

i guess i need to label things tut since up to this point being just me i have all inputs memorized and havent labelled yet.

of course in a few months things will change drastically... moving the studio to a remote deal until i can find a better home for it. but this is one of my main reason for wanting to train someone so i can more efficiently do live gigs.
Old 31st January 2003
  #11
Gear Head
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
I think you've got to give them the most easy, tedious, boring roles to concentrate on first (running errands, making coffee, turning equipment on/off, tape op'ing if they're steady!)
NO, I completely disagree with that method. Its demeaning, and completey useless to the trainee and the studio. You know what that method inevitably does. It only makes the trainee want to show YOU what he can do eventually. There is also little respect after 6 months of tidying up leads and making coffee.

This method was how it was decades ago, and as you mentioned there are easy ways to learn how to use a DAW and making coffee in a studio is not one of them. Of course he/she has to do that as well, but they also have to be alowed to give some input and be allowed to practice mixing from the very start (not while the customers are there of course).

A young head can have some very good ideas. i know I work with younger people all the time and am very often amazed at their suggestions that I wouldnt have thought of. So I learn from them as well and get their respect.
Old 31st January 2003
  #12
Moderator emeritus
 
🎧 15 years
I need an assistant like Alpha's - I don't need a runner, a gopher, or a slave - I need someone who can slide into my seat when I'm fried and take over the work.

My last one, who was well on his way to being what I needed when he left to take a gig as the Southeast rep for Emtec, spent a lot of time doing carpentry work (I was in the middle of building this room when he was working for me), but he mostly did it right next to me; we were both taking instructions from the carpenter. But he also spent a lot of time engineering. By the way, one of the hardest things in the world to do is to sit next to your assistant while he's doing overdubs, and NOT grab the remote out of his hands...

As it turns out, that ex-assistant is now a client - he's quite Emtec and got himself a PT room in south Florida, and brings projects up here to track rhythm sections. He learned how to be an engineer while he was here, and I had some help getting the work done that needed doing. And even the construction work that he did here was worthwhile - he's been doing some of the build-out in his studio.
Old 31st January 2003
  #13
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I think SM and Fletcher have the right idea for a newbie, Jules, i would go more that route with someone who knows a bit more and I really need to see that they are looking to work and be involved ( I would pay em though, in cash and respect.. not accusing you of disrespecting or not paying as a side note)

Alpha, you should label stuff for her benefit, perhaps you could do that with her, so that she learns a bit abotu signal routing and why you have what pres for what application?

Cool project on a few levels, one, this is almost exactly how I got started, and you seem to have a very cool grasp on the "vibe is most important" element of recording, which I think is essential.

hell, maybe let her read some selected threads on here, there have been some great threads!
Old 31st January 2003
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Messiah's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Robinhood
NO, I completely disagree with that method. Its demeaning, and completey useless to the trainee and the studio. You know what that method inevitably does. It only makes the trainee want to show YOU what he can do eventually. There is also little respect after 6 months of tidying up leads and making coffee.
I think Jules put it more eliquantly than I did, but the intention was the same.

What I said in my first post was meant more towards the first few weeks when they start as opposed to six months down the line. I think one of the big factors of taking somebody on is building a relationship and an understanding with them, but you can't do that in the first few weeks so it's worth testing out their character in that time.

In terms of how it was "back in the day", I know the stories but, at 27, I still class myself as too young(!) to be from that school. I came to production from more of a musical than engineering background and when I was coming through (which I still think I'm doing, btw!) I was very fortunate to work with other producer/engineers who DID allow me to speak my mind and they'd usually listen! I had a big break with, and still work with, a producer, who most of you will know, who I have a great working relationship with. I have learnt a great deal from him, continue to and he never made me feel uncomfortable speaking my mind. For those intirgued/interested;
My*Background!!
Jules, you may also notice that we have a band in common!!!

I'd like to think that I can do the same for someone else at some point, but I think good newbies are very hard to find. I've got a guy working as my assistant/engineer now though who is 23, great to work with and has all the attributes that I would personally look for in a 2nd-in-command!! And I didn't have to train him either!!
Old 31st January 2003
  #15
Gear Guru
 
chrisso's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
I got the impression Alpha was looking for someone to chip in when the going got tough. You're not going to teach people to set up mics and use patchbays by treating them like a runner.
Old 31st January 2003
  #16
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
i was just looking more for teaching techniques.
Old 31st January 2003
  #17
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
side note: so who here has worked with women in the studio [or are women]? does it pose a "problem" with the artists brains? i guess i will find out monday since the guy coming in definately is uh... i cant even think of the proper word.

i have worked with women artists but not on the other side of the glass. i have been in bands with girls and there are usually "issues"...

not trying to be sexist or anything... im not worried about ME... its the OTHERS im concerned with. might actually add the right "energy".
Old 31st January 2003
  #18
Lives for gear
 
Messiah's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
not trying to be sexist or anything... im not worried about ME... its the OTHERS im concerned with. might actually add the right "energy".
What's wrong with being sexy?
Old 31st January 2003
  #19
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
I used to hang around at a studio (Laughing Tiger) with a good friend who happened to be female. She worked there and was the only woman. Time and again I'd see the dynamic change when she entered the room. She'd go out of the studio for a few hours and guys in bands would start acting like dorks, and/or get a lot more crass than they would when she was around. The staff was jaded so they didn't care... at least it meant the clients were comfortable. When she came back, they would return to acting more sophisticated. Nothing new in the world of male/female dynamics. Women balance it out. Her being sexy played a role in it too. The studio manager said clients would call to ask if she would be working on their projects, so it can't hurt. Hopefully, part of it was they respected her studio skills.
Old 31st January 2003
  #20
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
thats what im thinking... my studio tends to be rather "blue" normally. and every session that a female wasnt present has a major "mens club" vibe. so im guessing that dynamic will change drastically. im also wondering if it will help or hurt the artists performances [showing off or being intimidated]
Old 31st January 2003
  #21
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
There's really only one or two answers to clients trying to one-up themselves and thinking that the hot staffer will notice and hand them her phone number. The clients are either hard up and desperate or they're players (aka "playaz"), or both.

Guys in serious relationships don't even think about it. They're the ones actually concentrating on getting a good take. 'Course when their girlfriends/wives come around, they often want to show off - elaborate, long drum fills.. elaborate, Yngwie guitar runs.. the singer "hitting" notes that he hadn't tried all day until then..
Old 31st January 2003
  #22
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
or they're players (aka "playaz")
thats the word that was failing me earlier... sorry, fully brain dead right now.
Old 1st February 2003
  #23
One with big hooves
 
Jay Kahrs's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jax
Guys in serious relationships don't even think about it. They're the ones actually concentrating on getting a good take. 'Course when their girlfriends/wives come around, they often want to show off - elaborate, long drum fills.. elaborate, Yngwie guitar runs.. the singer "hitting" notes that he hadn't tried all day until then..
That's why I don't allow wives and girlfriends/boyfriends, whatever into the studio. Too many distractions and everyone gets goofy until the S.O. leaves.

Yeah, Slipperman does have a big heart. You should see him talk about in person, he just kinda glows.

A good assistant should eventually be able to think like me and be on top of things before they even come up. I've made the mistake of trying to teach too much in a little bit of time and having them go into overload and that's no good. The best time to show them stuff is usually before or after a gig rather then during. During the session it's usually mundane stuff like moving mics and running until they get their stuff together and feel like they can take the seat. I'll try to teach them as much as I can but during a session it's usually pretty hard to tell them why I put this compressor and that mic in that spot on that instrument. But, I'm always asking if they have questions.

Maybe once she gets up to speed and knows a bit about the studio and signal flow you could have her record a band she knows and you can assist her. The learn by doing vibe.
Old 1st February 2003
  #24
Jax
Lives for gear
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by Jay Kahrs
Maybe once she gets up to speed and knows a bit about the studio and signal flow you could have her record a band she knows and you can assist her. The learn by doing vibe.
Reminds me of the other thing that assistants can be good for: connections. If they know a bunch of bands, or even one band or musician that knows a bunch of bands, you have a good chance of tapping into another client base.... or they do and they get trained by you, leave, and build their own studio, taking all the clients in tow.
Old 2nd February 2003
  #25
Mindreader
 
BevvyB's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
If you want to put them off the job for life you could always get mixerman in to look down at them through his nose and make them grovel.
Old 2nd February 2003
  #26
Jr. Gear Slut 2nd class
 
chessparov's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
A.J., do either of the assistants have any home recording equipment? If they did, they could be assigned constructive
"homework" that would be transferable to your studio.

As some of you may remember, I was all set to start assisting
at the (top) local studio that specializes in rock and blues bands.
Even bought a Tascam US-224 controller to get a head start
on his PT based set-up to get rock'n and roll'n right away.
Plus he was made aware of the posssibility of recording various acapella quartets and choruses I know, along with me being willing to promote his recording facility to the karaoke crowd.

No call yet from the owner, although he gave every indication he
would be happy to have me help as his business expands.
So rather than waiting for a "maybe" situation, I've set up my
first live concert recording gig in March, and will be making demo recordings of acapella groups in the not so distant future.
My long term interest now as a result is making good quality
live recordings, and demos through self-education.
Fellow singers are already saying the vocal recordings surpass those of other local project studios they have paid money to use,
and that they give a better performance because it's done in a fun way, rather than feeling clinical about it.

There is a possibility that the studio owner thought it was strange that someone self-employed like myself already making a good income would also want to be a "fortysomething" tea boy!
Got to feed the gear habit, surely you guys understand...

Chris
Old 2nd February 2003
  #27
Here for the gear
 
🎧 15 years
Since you all are on this subject

Long shot, but it doesn't hurt to ask...

Anyone in the Los Angeles area looking for an assistant to train?

Im a quite, humble, 27 yr. old male eager to learn. I originally moved to Los Angeles with the hopes of going to school at The Recording Workshop. This never happened, and probably never will. Money is tight so I work full time, and don't get out much. My extra time is spent reading up on home recording, and similar topics. Im not looking for a hobby, Im looking for a future career in the recording industry.
Id like to find someone that is truly interested in training an assistant. Helping to make things run smooth is fine, but I would not be interested if my soul purpose was to be a gopher.

So if anyone is interested, or might be in the future I can be reached at:
[email protected] , and yes The "D" stands for Davy.
Old 2nd February 2003
  #28
Lives for gear
 
loudist's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Have her help you with doable tasks, moving mic stands, fetching mics, throwing cables, wrapping cables, plugging in mics to said cables, headphones, chairs,... the complete setup in the recording room.
After all that is where most of the sonics engineering happens anyway. Teach her the room... let it sink into the visceral memory, so when a problem comes up large or small that is the first part of the 'scan'.

The equipment in the control room comes later.
Old 4th February 2003
  #29
There is only one
 
alphajerk's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
man... today was hilarious. im starting from SQUARE ONE with her. makes me think about things i havent thought about in years.

went over what mics do, what kind of mics, how to wrap cables, how to adjust mic stands... etc. showed her how an EQ worked.

i ended up giving her a really basic book to take home and read.... after she is dont with that one, i have another. she comes across as a real study kinda person so hopefully she will get through the book fairly quickly and understand more of the terminology.

should be fun. fortunately the session today went fairly well [although have to do some serious work on my machine... it was acting up on me today the little biotch it is... told the bassist in today that if it crashed on me one more time i was going to put a hole in it with a shotgun and **** it... although i have been pretty sloppy in my care of it lately]
Old 4th February 2003
  #30
Lives for gear
 
Steve Smith's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally posted by alphajerk
told the bassist in today that if it crashed on me one more time i was going to put a hole in it with a shotgun and **** it...
I thought you were worried about the artist offending her....
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