Mastering the Art of Becoming a Mix Master
Hey gang, Ryan here. I’ve been an APRA instructor and engineer at The Beach for the past 7 and a half years. Prior to that I spent around 10 or so years playing drums in a band, and did my fair share of gigging, home recording, and recording Albums/EP’s at a few local studios. The desire to figure out what’s happening on the other side of the glass and learn the art of recording and mixing is what led me to become an APRA student just over 8 years ago.
Two questions students commonly ask are: “how do you get better as a mixing engineer?” and “how do you become a better Pro Tools operator?”.
The answer is simple – PRACTICE!
Learning how to record, edit, and mix is not unlike learning how to play an instrument. Picture this: you are taking a class to learn how to play the guitar. You sit down with your instructor for 2 hours per week and learn some chords and how to play a basic song. A week goes by and all of the sudden it is time for your next lesson. During the week you didn’t even touch your guitar – are you going to be able to walk in there and play like Jimi Hendrix? Chances are you won’t be any better than you were the week before. In fact you have probably forgotten most of the previous lesson and will need a refresher! In order to become a better player you need to practice during downtime (some might say play until your fingers bleed like it’s the summer of ’69). The same goes for recording, editing and mixing, luckily with fewer calluses and bloody digits.
This is where programs like those offered at The Academy of Production & Recording Arts come into play. In addition to the projects assigned in class, APRA students are given access to previous student recording sessions and are directed to online libraries hosting raw multi-track sessions that can be used to practice editing and mixing outside of class hours.
As a working engineer the clock is running during a recording/mixing session (time is money!). The thousands of hours you must put in outside of project/classroom work developing your skill set and work flow in your personal production space (this can be a full blown project studio or a laptop and a pair of headphones) will be invaluable during a paid session.