Saturday, September 12, 2009

You have a degree… really?

I just saw a TV show in which a girl with an audio engineering degree (fairly recent graduate) admit indirectly that she doesn’t know a thing about her major.  She was explaining that she can’t figure out how to make her voice sound good when she is recording because it is always too quiet, and that it is full of pops when she speaks words with “Ps” or “Bs.” 

The answers to both problems are very simple… rudimentary even.  Put a popper stopper on the microphone to prevent the pops (or move it off to one side instead of straight on), and use a compressor to handle volume levels.  These are the sorts of things that are taught in the very first classes on audio… When I had my recording studio class in college (an introductory class aimed at musicians, not budding audio engineers) we were taught both concepts very clearly and very early on.  And we were definitely tested on them over and over again.  If we didn’t understand those concepts we couldn’t have passed the class.

For someone with a degree in audio engineering to not know how to use a popper stopper or a compressor is embarrassing.  It is sort of like an Art major not knowing what a brush is.  Or a Computer Science major not knowing about the Internet.  Or an English major not understanding the difference between a noun and a verb.  Or a Biology major not knowing about DNA.  Begin to get the idea?

These are both ideas that I have taught to everyone who has ever come into my studio to record.  They all understand it on the very first day.  How does someone study for a major for 4 years and not get it?

So it really makes me wonder how she got her degree.  Or, even worse… why is her school giving out degrees to people who don’t understand the fundamental concepts of their major?  Is a college credible if it gives out degrees to people who clearly don’t know anything about their field of study?  It’s kind of scary that it can happen at all. 

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