BSc (Hons) Music and Sound Design Technology
Jake F - My week at a Glance
My Week at a glance
Week at a glance – Hi! I’m Jake, I recently completed the final projects of my degree in Music and Sound Design Technology and in this blog, I will give you an overview of a typical week in my third and final year at Herts. My average third-year week would usually include two days of lectures, one or two shifts at work and the rest of the week spent working on assignments and socialising with friends.
I only had two days a week of lectures in my final year which meant I could be very flexible with how I spent my time. I would always attend all my lectures and typically spend another two to three hours working on assignments on these days during the evenings. The rest of the week I would usually aim to work six hours, but this varied as I had other commitments. It is not necessary to work six hours per day but as I am aiming for a first-class grade, this was enough for me to learn and practise everything I needed too without overworking myself.
During my final year, I worked at the Forum at UH (University of Hertfordshire) as a live sound and lighting technician, something I really enjoyed doing as it was the first time working in a job related to my sound engineering course. Usually, I would work two shifts a week, Wednesday night and Friday evening which worked out at around 12 – 15 hours a week, sometimes it was more and sometimes less. The fact the shifts were in the evening and at night was good as it allowed me to focus on my assignments during the day, but club nights would see me often working till 04:00 or later which did leave me tired the next day but this was part of the job and it was a great experience overall.
It was especially important that I put aside time for myself to relax and socialize with friends and to take time out of all the work I was doing. I and a friend from my course got into a routine of playing table tennis each night to get some light exercise and to take a break from the assignments. In the final year can be stressful sometimes, so it is particularly important to look after yourself by exercising, eating healthily (and enough!) and spending time with friends or relaxing by yourself
I think being at Uni is about finding the right balance of work and fun that works for you, it is a wonderful way to practise self-discipline and time management and you will learn a lot about yourself.
Thanks for reading!
Jake F - Guide to the facilities
As a sound engineering student, you have access to everything you need to prepare you for working in the industry. It is a very practical subject so having the right equipment, software, and hardware, is vital for getting the hands-on experience you need. Most of my work was done in the FMM, Film Music & Media building which has computer labs with all the latest programs, surround sound ‘satellite’ rooms, an acoustically treated room for film sound, and many other musical spaces and practise rooms. You also have access to the Art and Design buildings where you will find fully kitted out music studios with performing and recording rooms with the latest mixing desks and computers, a Foley studio which I used a lot for films, and the loan store. The loan store allows you to borrow equipment such as microphones, musical instruments and other equipment like video cameras and accessories.
Having access to these spaces was vital as part of my learning experience as there is no substitute for hands-on learning but Herts gave me everything, I needed to ensure I am prepared to start work or go onto further education.
I also had some lectures in the Forum where I learned about live sound and acoustics. I had the privilege to work at the Forum which gave me an even more extensive knowledge of live sound setups. The facilities at the Forum are incredible and working with such a high standard of equipment was always exciting. There are two music rooms in the Forum, the main auditorium which is a large capacity club room with a full lighting rig and a custom sound setup. There is also the attic which is a smaller venue which hosts Herts Jam which is a student-run music event held three times a year. The Forum has seen some big artists and bands play there, such as Enter Shikari and even the music video for Ed Sheeran’s Lego House was filmed there.
As well as the specialist spaces, you have everything you would expect as a student like lecture halls and access to the library on campus where you can borrow books and magazines and use computers and printers. You also have access to the online library to check if they have a book and if it is available.
UH (University of Hertfordshire) exceeded my expectations of professional equipment and facilities and I would highly recommend anyone looking to study music technology or sound engineering to consider Herts. Despite graduating during the Covid-19 outbreak and it being a strange time, I feel prepared for my future, whenever and wherever that may be!
Jake F- Why I chose Herts
Why I chose Herts
When I attended the open day and had the subject talk, Herts was able to relay confidence in their teaching abilities and the course itself, that other universities I visited were not able to do. They really sounded like they knew their stuff, and this was backed up by statistics in student satisfaction and almost 100% of students being in further education or work within six months of graduating. The course itself also sounded more suited to me as it was a mix of creative and technical teaching compared to some universities being much more technical and less practical and creative.
The facilities were impressive, and I could picture myself working in the labs and studios as we were shown around. I had never accessed any sound equipment before I had gone to university so seeing these facilities up close was a very motivating experience.
The course lived up to my expectations and I really enjoyed being taught there. The staff were very friendly and incredibly knowledgeable in their respective fields of work and I can’t see how it could have been improved.
I also felt that I could imagine myself at Herts much more than the other universities I visited. This may have been due to it being a campus university where most of the University is based on one campus. This made it seem like a true community and a busy, bustling place full of young people like me. The campus itself was very appealing due to the modern accommodation facilities and other stylish buildings and spaces. The College Lane Campus has a very homely and connected feel due to the Oval building which sits surrounded by accommodation blocks. It, therefore, gave the impression of being very social which was appealing as I was overly excited about meeting many friends during my time there.
Another reason I chose Herts is its proximity to London. I love cities, especially London, and being so close was massively appealing to me. It was only 20 minutes on the train, and I took opportunities to travel there when I could, meeting family and friends and working in the city centre on some occasions. It also meant travelling home was easy as I could get a direct train to Manchester from London.
Going to a university far from my home was not an issue for me, if anything, it was more appealing as I like to experience living in different areas. It can be daunting moving far from your family, but you will meet so many people very quickly and soon, the university will feel like your home.
Meet Matthew Mainprize who has worked on exciting projects like Jurassic World: Evolution since graduating. He is currently working as an Audio Designer at Frontier Developments.Read more stories Find out more about this course
|Current job role||Audio Designer|
|Year of graduation||2018|
|Course of study||BSc (Hons) Music Composition and Technology for Films and Games|
University experience and opportunities
Matthew thoroughly enjoyed his course at the University of Hertfordshire, as it guided him towards his current career path, which he really loves. He says, 'My studies allowed me to develop my interests and skills and provided an environment to learn and apply myself to a specific task over extended periods of time. The teacher support and engagement were very helpful.'
Matthew currently works as an Audio Designer on Jurassic World Evolution and talks about how his studies were extremely useful in helping him decide his profession and subsequently securing his current role.
'I took a while to decide what I wanted to do with my life prior to university, and when I worked out what that was, Hertfordshire was the one place that offered a course that was exactly what I was looking for. It provided me with the option to do a placement year, and this enabled me to get an internship at a Microsoft Games Studio. Without going to university, I would not have had this opportunity, nor the skill-set to get the position.'
Matthew encourages prospective students to make the most of their time at Herts. He suggests, 'Have the best portfolio you can and keep it refreshed where possible. Make best use of your connections from university and collaborate on projects with them. I like to keep up to date with what my other friends are doing with their own personal projects and careers.'
Matthew took advantage of all the opportunities at Herts, both inside and outside of his studies. He advises other students to do the same and adds, 'Always keep an eye out for any opportunities that may appear, and keep your options and goals open at the start. I remember having a number of projects I worked on, featured in the Animation feature film day!'
Aspirations for the future
Still looking to improve himself and progress in his career, Matthew wishes to develop his skills as a sound designer. 'My plans are to continue to learn and improve, whilst working at Frontier. I want to increase my output, value and contribution to the games we work on so that they can be the best that they can be.'
Meet Chris Parker who has worked with some big names in the music industry and is looking forward to a return to normality.Read more stories Find out more about BSc(Hons) Music and Sound Design Technology
|Current job role||Production Manager|
|Year of graduation||2015 and 2017|
|Course of study||BSc(Hons) Music and Sound Design Technology MSc Music and Sound Technology (Audio Engineering)|
Rock and roll!
Chris says, 'I decided to study BSc Music and Sound Design Technology with the aim of being a musician (bass player) with flexible tech skills, as I saw this as a way to diversify and stay ahead of the traditional 'performance only' roles in a changing industry.'
Upon finishing his undergraduate degree at Herts he was able to use the exclusive 20% alumni discount on postgraduate courses (PG) to continue his studies with us.
'With the help of the postgraduate discount I decided to do the MSc Music and Sound Technology (Audio Engineering) course. It was flexible enough to allow me to use the skills I'd learnt from my first degree and work experience at Uni to go out and develop as a freelance Audio/Lighting Technician.'
When speaking about how his studies helped him, Chris says 'In and out of my studies, I was able to try out the many different facets of the music industry, such as studio recording and mixing, radio broadcast production, stage management etc.'
'I said "yes" to as many opportunities as I could while I was studying, working late nights and early mornings doing part-time jobs around the University. This included working at the Student’s Union at The Forum Hertfordshire, being a Stage Manager in the Weston Auditorium and working in the University Music Studios.'
'The course gave me knowledge of a range of audio fundamentals, but I think what was most beneficial to me was working as a Sound and Lighting Tech at The Forum.'
'The staff and facilities here were central to my learnings, allowing me to make mistakes and learn from those errors in a pressure-free environment. The live side of the industry really worked for me as I enjoyed meeting people, travelling and the energy of making the show happen in front of a crowd.'
A competitive world
Chris was under no illusion as to how competitive the music industry can be but was determined to succeed, 'I knew it was a difficult industry to get into and make a viable career out of, so I understood that I'd have to work extra hard to make it happen.'
When asked about his career highlights, Chris feels he has been lucky to do something that he enjoys so much. He says, 'It's been incredibly rewarding making bands sound louder and look brighter across the world.'
'I have toured the USA, Europe and Australia with well-known bands and artists and shows like Lanterns On The Lake at Islington Assembly Hall, The Amazons at Brixton Academy, Mark Feehily (Westlife) at The 02 Arena and Yonaka at Alexandra Palace have been personal highlights, to name a few!'
When it comes to the subject of diversity in the industry Chris realises it has some way to go. He says, 'I've been lucky to work with diverse performing talent from a wide range of backgrounds on stage, but behind the tech side of things there is a clear problem with diversity.'
'It is something which is slowly improving, thanks in part to the help of organisations like Sound Girls and 3T, as well as new courses offering opportunities like the University of Hertfordshire’s BSc Live Sound and Lighting Technology degree.'
Find out more about Sound Girls and 3T.
Impact of COVID-19
While COVID-19 has had a huge impact on almost every industry, live music has been hit as hard as any. So how does it look now for Chris? He says, 'Due to the obvious nature of live events, COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the touring industry.'
'Where I work at Patchwork London, we’ve had to diversify our output into live streaming and video shoots. This has seen us provide crew and audio equipment for album launches, ticketed online streams and broadcasts such as The Jimmy Kimmel Show and Jimmy Fallon.'
'It's going to be tough moving forwards to find a sustainable solution until live events as we know it can resume. There are currently lots of crew without work, and concert sound systems and video walls hibernating, gathering dust in warehouses.'
Advice for the next generation
Chris says 'It's tough. There's no set way to get into the live music industry; everyone I speak to has a different story and followed a different path. Work hard consistently, go out of your way to learn things outside your comfort zone and perhaps most importantly, enjoy it.'
Like all of us, Chris is looking forward to a time when we can return to a semblance of ‘how it used to be.'
'I hope for a safe and swift return to normality for the live music industry, as the dust settles on the pandemic and the uncertainties of Brexit lift. Life on tour is very demanding, physically and mentally, so personally, in the future I'd like to use what I've learned on the road to production manage large scale events and tours.'