Academics and Research / Current Issue

Mix masters know music and how to produce it

students working

From left: Brandon Koch, Michael Schulze and Chris Beeble. Photo: Wayne Armstrong.

Successful recording producers are part producer, part composer and part musician.

The most notable: Beatles recording producer Sir George Martin. A pianist and composer, he was one of few recording producers at the time with a background in music. It’s been said that the Beatles owed much of their success to his ability to direct them and draw out their best.

Yet, to this day, few schools offer students the chance to study both music and audio production.

That’s not the case at DU’s Lamont School of Music. If Lamont students want to pursue a degree in audio production, it must be partnered with music performance.

“Our philosophy is that you will make a much better recording engineer if you’re also a musician,” says Michael Schulze, lecturer in audio production and electronic music.

That philosophy is the reason junior Eric Reusche chose Lamont. He was accepted to several prestigious music schools, including Carnegie Mellon and the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, but he wanted to pursue opera and production.

“I just like technology, and recording interested me,” Reusche says. “They also provide really good opportunities junior and senior years for internships.”

Drew Sowell’s internship was so enticing he stayed on as a recording engineer with Miami’s South Beach Studios, home of multi-Grammy award winning engineer/producer Tom Lord-Alge. Fellow Lamont student Peter McGinnis had already been working as an engineer at the studio for three months. Sowell plans to return to DU to complete his degree, but in the meantime is learning on the job.

“Unfortunately, in the industry today, most engineers are not practicing musicians, which is why I believe it’s great that Lamont students are required to pursue a music performance degree to be in the audio production program,” Sowell says. “It helps them relate to who they work with, as well as develop a refined ear for music.”

While they’re taking music classes and lessons and performing as musicians themselves, recording students also are learning how to record classical, jazz, rock and pop music. Students record sessions, recitals and concerts each week and then mix and master the music.

From two fully equipped recording studios in the basement of Lamont, students can access any concert or practice venue in the Newman Center to record audio or video. The equipment gives students real-world experience.

“Our unique approach is working, as evidenced by the success Drew and Peter are enjoying,” Schulze says. “We are also very proud that for the last two years we have had winners in the Down Beat magazine student music awards Best Engineered Studio Recording category, in competition with much longer-established recording programs.”

“I couldn’t ask for a better instructor or better facilities!” Sowell says.


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