Do you have problems, or are YOU the problem?

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of

Friday February 11, 2011

In vocational training, one essential activity is to provide a simulation of a real-work environment. So as well as training, students get to see and feel what it's like to work for a client or an employer. Unfortunately, this is almost impossible to achieve completely. Life can be harsh, the workplace can be harsh, but if education or training is made to be equally harsh, then students drop out.

You could say of course, "What's the problem?" If a student can't hack it in training, then they are not going to hack it at work either. I would say personally however that if training becomes a matter of 'survival of the fittest' only, then it really isn't training, just pre-selection of good candidates for employment.

What we find at Audio Masterclass is that some students will send in work of consistently good quality. Most aspects of 'good quality' can be achieved simply by fulfilling the project brief correctly. They will ask the occasional intelligent question and generally be a pleasure to work with. They will go on to get jobs in the industry or win clients. These are the people who will get, and deserve, the work that's out there.

For a minority of students however, things are not so smooth-running. They send in work that is good in places, but doesn't always stick to the project in hand. They ask questions expecting a personal reply when the answer's either there in the notes, or they could have got it in five seconds from Google. They have problems that they expect to be resolved for them. They need their hand to be held the whole time.

Well you could say that all students deserve to be treated equally. They have all paid their course fee (those in state education have had their costs paid for by the tax payer). Yes, I would agree with that. But the trouble is that it is easy to slip into a situation where diligent, hard-working students get less attention than those who always have a problem of one sort or another. That doesn't seem fair to me. Slackers get rewarded while hard-workers are, in comparison, starved of attention.

Let's move this on to people who are working in the music or sound industry already...

Do you find your job easy? Is it OK to partially fulfill a project brief, or a manager's or client's requirements? Can you get by with second-rate work? Do you harass your manager or client with a continual bombardment of questions when you could have found or thought out the answer yourself?

If anyone working successfully in the music or sound industry can answer yes to any of these questions, I'd like to know because that would stand my perception of the industry, developed over more than three decades, totally on its head.

So the conclusion, for students...

Your school, college or tutor cannot provide a totally accurate simulation of the real-world working environment. You have to take, "I'm not totally satisfied with that" from your tutor as the equivalent of a real-world, "You're fired!"

For educators...

It is easy to fall into the trap of pandering to the feckless and ignoring the students who are going to provide real worth to the industry. Give honest advice where it is needed, give a helping hand to those who are willing and ready to be helped. Allocate your time and resources to those who have demonstrated, or you believe are soon to genuinely acquire, the will to succeed.

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