Our Spirit+ programme of extracurricular sessions provides students with exclusive insights into the different areas of the music industry, enhancing and inspiring the learning experience at Spirit. It also provides an opportunity for students to meet their peers from other courses, as well as network with industry experts. This semester has had some incredible sessions covering all aspects of the industry. Check out our recap of Semester 1 sessions below.
First off we had multi-instrumentalist, Shunya, who delivered a performance masterclass demonstrating how he achieves his unique sound. Shunya innovatively plays the violin through a variety of pedals, combined with looped live vocals and a live Ableton performance of drums and heavy bass drops. Shunya explained how he achieved this performance concept, talked about his background in classical violin and his journey towards working as a fulltime musician. He highlighted the importance of collaboration and utilising all your skills as a musician to generate revenue.
One of our tutors and resident DJ, Chengy, delivered a workshop on turntablism, introducing students to the world of scratch DJ styles and techniques. With his extensive career as a DJ, and having performed in venues across the world, most recently at Manchester International Festival, Chengy had a wealth of experience to share. During the session students took turns in trying out different scratch moves with guidance from Chengy to master their technique.
Sounchecks at Victoria Warehouse and AO Arena
Thanks to Paul Rattcliff, our Live Sound Engineering and Music Production Programme Leader, we were able to offer students the unique opportunity to attend soundchecks for The Streets at Victoria Warehouse and Chemical Brothers at the AO Arena. At Victoria Warehouse students were given exclusive tours around the back stage area; the artists’ set up on the stage, on stage monitoring and front of house. The engineers doing the sound for the show explained how everything worked throughout the soundcheck, gave advice and answered any questions. This opportunity was extremely valuable to students as they were able to see professional, industry leading, sound engineers working in some of the most established venues in the UK.
Running alongside The Streets soundcheck, students were given an incredible opportunity to watch the Chemical Brothers soundcheck at the AO Arena. They got the chance to step on stage and see the plethora of synthesisers and drum machines being used for a live Chemical Brothers set. The valuable part of the session was getting to talk to the front of house engineer, Shan Hira, who runs an all analogue front of house setup with a MIDAS console and an outboard selection most recording studios would be envious of. Students also got the chance to see how software like R1 and ArrayCalc are used to tune and control the PA system.
Industry Focus: Live sound with El Ashwood
Alumni and experienced sound engineer, El Ashwood, delivered an in-depth talk on her career so far in the live sound industry. El spoke about building her career foundations as a student by networking and shadowing sound engineers. El has worked on some of the most established productions in the world such as Jools Holland and the Eurovision Song Contest. Working as a successful freelancer, El advised students on how to seek work and make themselves known in the live sound industry. She emphasised that work experience was key to her success.
PRS and MU
Representatives from PRS for Music and the Musicians Union (MU) delivered a talk on how to navigate the music industry. The session looked at claiming copyrights and royalties, maximising revenue streams and funding options, and ensuring security as a musician by having union support. This session was particularly valuable to the budding artists and entrepreneurs in the room planning their careers in music. The talk detailed MU services students could benefit from, such as legal contract advice, how students could register their music with PRS and tips for winning grants and funding. Read our full article on the PRS & MU session here.
Sound for Games
This interactive workshop, led by alumni George Lloyd-Burman, showed students the intricacies of game audio. George is now the Senior Sound Designer at Pit Stop Productions and has credits with PlayStation Studios, Codemasters and Guerilla Games. He has worked on games such as Baldur’s Gate III, Horizon Call of the Mountain and GRID. In the workshop he introduced students to Wise, a key technology in the industry, demonstrating how sound is programmed into games. Students were then tasked with creatinb and recording sound effects for characters, weapons, ambience, environment, and enemies. At the end of the workshop the sounds were uploaded into Wise and it was demonstrated how they would be triggered during game play.
Having studied at Spirit in the 90s, Tim Thomas, a renowned mixing engineer and owner of Blueprint Studios talked about his impressive career, mixing techniques, his workflow and philosophy of mixing. Tim’s incredible career includes mixing two No.1 singles as well as working with the likes of Gorillaz, Snoop Dogg, John Leckie (The Stone Roses, Radiohead) and many more. Tim reflected on what he had learnt throughout his career as a mixing engineer and shared his insight into the process of working with artists and how to get the best results.
Martin Audio training session
The renowned audio company, Martin Audio, delivered a full day of training, introducing students to different equipment and practices; developing skills that can be applied in roles across the live sound industry. The day covered areas such as wavefront precision (their optimised line arrays), subwoofer presentation, venue creation, rigging, VU-Net, amplifier networking and de-rigging. The day gave students the opportunity to learn how one of the worlds leading PA companies are training their in house engineers. The session also diversified their skills and knowledge working with different equipment and systems.
Our final session of the semester saw Stephen Kerrison from Weird Jungle Mastering Collective presenting a mastering masterclass, giving students insight to the world of mastering, from basic techniques and fundamental concepts, to the art of finishing a project. Stephen showed us his process for mastering a track, debunked myths about loudness and the loudness war, and introduced students to the capabilities of WaveLab Pro. Stephen went through techniques such as clipping, limiting, mid-side EQ and compression.
The Spirit+ sessions have been an amazing way to enhance the student experience at Spirit. Giving students insight and experience in real-life industry settings, learning from guests with some of the most sought after expertise in the world and allowing students from different courses and year groups to mix and network.
We look forward to more Spirit+ sessions in 2024, keep an eye out for the schedule of sessions for Semester 2.
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