How I learned to stop worrying and love the studio: a professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording

Blier-Carruthers, Amy (2015) How I learned to stop worrying and love the studio: a professional and paradigmatic approach to preparing musicians for recording. In: Proceedings of the ORCiM Seminar 2014 : From Output to Impact, The integration of artistic research results into musical training. Orpheus Instituut, Ghent.


Classical musicians spend thousands of hours training for the concert platform, but comparatively little time learning how to translate that performance for the recording studio. Either because of the inherent qualities of the product and process of recording, or because of this lack of preparation during their training, many musicians approach the recording studio with trepidation and anxiety. Based on my research, this is true of professionals, but even the technologically-savvy students of today describe recording using words such as: 'perfection, permanent, clean, clinical, not natural, no audience, exposing flaws, daunting'. In this paper I will discuss a course that I teach on studio practices for conservatoire students; this is a learning model which uses elements of collaboration, experiential learning, and self-reflection.

Using an ethnographic approach, I have researched orchestral musicians’ professional lives as recording artists, and as a participant observer I have been teaching whilst simultaneously researching this learning experience. I will give an account of how the research informs the teaching, and will highlight important aspects of the teaching and learning processes as evidenced by my observations, interviews, and the students' own reflective commentaries. I will also offer an argument that this course is an example of the simultaneous use of Sloboda's concepts of professional and paradigmatic learning, where professional learning is preparing the student for the profession, and paradigmatic learning is the process of questioning or rethinking accepted mores, often resulting in news ways of thinking or doing. When these two concepts are applied simultaneously to teaching it can create a fruitful creative tension which enhances the students' learning; it not only prepares students for their careers as recording artists but makes them more conscious, enquiring and empowered musicians, and might also serve to change the culture of recording itself as they feed into the profession

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