Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Who Me?

One of my least favorite things about teaching anything to modern kids is the fact that they appear to believe they deserve to have information served to them in tiny chunks that are "digestable" without effort. Of course, the current generation of "teachers" appears to believe this is a goal, too, so you can't really blame the kids. You can't. I can.

One of the funniest people I've listened to since George Carlin died, Jim Jefferies, made the statement that Americans are #27 in "education" but we're #1 in confidence. "We you're breeding stupid confident people. They're the worst employees in the f... world." I suspect he's right. In fact, everything I've learned about "education" in the last decade has convinced me he's an optimist.

The driving command in modern, especially for-profit, education is "retention." That's a polite psuedonym for "Don't let the suckers escape until we have all of their money." Of course the only want to "retain" kids who don't want to study and believe that being asked to keep their pants on is an unreasonable restriction is to dumb-down what passes for education until it barely passes the high standard for a decent bedtime story. Kids don't fail in this environment, but they don't really succeed, either. As Jefferies said, "You won't find out what the f... you're good at if they tell you you're good at f... everything." While our students are mostly mediocre at everything and exception at nothing, their grades don't reflect that at all. In fact 43% of all college grades are (wait for it) A's. That is freakin' insane. Seriously? 43% of today's college students are "exceptional" (the definition of an "A")? The most I can say about that is, "Horseshit."

The program in which I taught is called "Music Production." Like many, or most, colleges with a music program in the US, we're attempting to train students for the rapidly vanishing job of recording engineer or the nearly non-existent job of producer. Almost no one makes a living as a recording engineer these days. Hell, pretty much no one pays for music anymore. And they shouldn't. Most of what I hear on the radio is somewhere between bad elevator music and not-good-enough-for-Musac. The art of the songwriter is almost ancient history and has been replaced with monotone, monosyllabic, monophonic "rappers" (I know, I forgot the "c.") complaining about their two-year-old Mercedes or their latest bimbo or their gun.

If this career path did actually exist, it has only EVER existed for incredibly focused, highly technical or musical or personable people with an amazing work ethic and exceptional perseverance. However, most of the children who are pursuing this path seem to believe the most important thing in a recording studio is their latest text message. It takes them no less than 45 minutes to setup a simple drum kit, a bass DI, and mic a guitar amp; while doing all of that task poorly and in complete disorganization. For reference, I can setup all of that, start and document a session, and be ready for a first take in no more than 15 minutes by myself. Four of these kids at their peak performance couldn't do the same in an hour without constant assistance and babysitting. Career-wise, they are doomed. They will never earn a nickel in a recording studio until they decide what is really important; both in the room and in their lives.

Earlier this year, a friend who is an excellent songwriter and a pretty decent musician volunteered to be a studio guinea pig and came to the school for a pair of two-hour sessions. I did the performance room setup, because I'd promised him we'd accomplish something that day. I asked the kids to simply setup the session and prepare for 3 microphones to be used through the session. When I finished my part of the setup, I had to go into the control room and do the other 1/10th of the job because four of six students were busy playing with their cell phones.

I have no idea how to make it clear the level of disrespect for the artist this behavior demonstrates. Honestly, I am clueless as to how anyone could expect respect themselves after failing that miserably at the basic job; the easiest aspect of the job (and the only portion of the job that most "music technology" schools bother to teach; i.e. Pro Tools Certification). Obviously, I'm part of the problem because a good teacher would be able to get through the ADHD bullshit and make it clear to these kiddies that they are looking at a life in a Wal-Mart uniform if they can't perform any better than that. Hell, Wal-Mart probably has higher standards than that.The Army doesn't, maybe they can be a recording engineer in the Army?

Friday, April 26, 2013

Cellphone Focus

There has been a lot of talk among educators about how to reach the dumb-phone addicted. This short video might be a decent demonstration. Show the little morons how staring at some brainless "tweet" when you're supposed to be working is a great way to crush a brand new career before it gets started. One instructor noted that, after explaining his "no electronics in class" rules, he simply explains that "If I see you staring at your crotch and smiling, you're gone." AJ could have used a little of that tough love.

This was AJ Clemente's first (and last) day on the job. In fact, I'd imagine his hopes and dreams of being a television broadcaster probably went down the toilet with his over-priced, under-disiplined education. On-line, since he won't be on screen anytime soon, Clemente said, "Unfortunately KFYRTV has decided to let me go. Thank you to them and everyone in North Dakota for the opportunity and everyone for the support." In response to some comments about his "misfortune," Clemente followed that up with "I'm a free agent. Cant help but laugh at myself and stay positive.Wish i didnt trip over my 'Freaking Shoes' out of the gate."

I'd feel sorry for him if he wasn't obviously a brainless little rich kid. He has a degree in something-or-other from West Virginia University, a state diploma mill with the usual low education standards we've come to expect from the southeast. What do you want to bet that school hands out A's at the usual 70%-of-all-grades rate? Literacy is, clearly, not one of WVU's strong points; either is a decent work ethic.

To illustrate the near-complete breakdown of society, a variety of morning-moron shows "invited" this idiot on to national television to explain how his tiny brain works. Obviously, owning a television is an invitation to become mentally disabled. My wife can put up with hours of these chittering chimpanzees, but she's 3/4 deaf. I can't stand more than a few seconds of that awful noise without wanting to toss the televisions from our house (probably grounds for divorce in most states).

Thursday, April 25, 2013

More Than We Needed to Know

This series of interviews proves that a whole generation of "music lovers" is so full of bullshit that it's a wonder they aren't used, directly, for fertilizer.

Kimmel's interviewer had to be having Clevon Little flashbacks, "Ooh, baby, you are so talented! And they are so dumb!" With an audience this moronic, how can today's musicians fail to take their money?

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Another Current Show: Peter Wolf Crier

This was the last show of the season and the guy, Andrew Halverson, who recorded and mixed this show knocked it out of the park: The Local Show April 7. Not only did Dave Campbell and the guys love the mix and interview segments, but the band put the show on their website, too. For the 2nd time in two years, The Current posted the whole show, interviews included, on their website: Peter Wolf Crier performs at the McNally Smith Soundbite Series. Andy gets a great credit on that page, too.

The MPR folks have been incredibly generous to my students in this project. Dave Campbell gives the engineer who mixed the show full credit, often multiple times, at least once and sometimes more often. You can't ask for a better starting point as a professional in music than to get a shout-out on the best radio station in the country.

Wirebender Audio Rants

Over the dozen years I taught audio engineering at Musictech College and McNally Smith College of Music, I accumulated a lot of material that might be useful to all sorts of budding audio techs and musicians. This site will include comments and questions about professional audio standards, practices, and equipment. I will add occasional product reviews with as many objective and irrational opinions as possible.