Studio 301: Experience and Sound on Deck for Music Majors

Designed as a proving ground for students and a resource for faculty, Studio 301 will celebrate its first anniversary next month.

Installed in the south end of the Fine Arts Building with the help of nearly a half-million dollars in grant money, the fully functional recording studio is a foundational tool for the Music Media/Music Business program. Designed by Mark Genfan of Acoustic Spaces in Austin, Studio 301 has a large inventory of top-flight recording equipment and is versatile enough for any genre of music.

“It’s all very quality stuff,” said Micah Hayes, Music Media/Music Business Area Coordinator. “Enough that we can do jazz, classical, pop or rock. Really, any style we can do in the studio.”

Studio 301 was converted from two large classrooms and includes a spacious control room as well as a large tracking room. The tracking room houses the studio’s Steinway grand piano and movable sound panels, and is large enough for the UTA Band’s horn section. A smaller isolation room – larger enough for a full-size drum kit – and a roomy storage closet round out the facilities. Hayes said the space enables his students to record any musical act of nearly any size.

Micha Hayes, Music Media/Music Business Area Coordinator, works on a recording project in the department's Studio 301.

Hayes teaches several recording classes in the facility, enabling students to reserve studio time and complete projects throughout the semester. Since the goal is for each student to get comfortable using the studio’s Pro Tools HD3 system and large soundboard, students are not allowed to play on their own recordings. They can, however, play instruments on each other’s recordings or invite their friends’ bands to come in for a session, and that has kept the studio’s schedule filled – and the red “RECORDING” light in the hall constantly illuminated.

“I want [students] to have a foundation where they can learn in the real world,” Hayes said about his class’ focus on learning the ins and outs of the recording equipment and software. “I don’t expect someone to leave college knowing exactly how to be a professional. But I want them to leave college knowing how to learn to be a professional, and have the skills to feel comfortable working in a recording studio.”

Mark Macias, a junior majoring in Music Media, said he had never stepped foot in a studio before his class last year. Working in Studio 301 – with a group or on his own – has given him experience he said will help him capitalize on a job opportunity once he graduates.

“In our recording technique classes there’s a lot of independent study, so it all depends on you and what you learn and how you use [the recording equipment],” Macias said. “It depends on how much work and research you put into it. I can see myself going to a [commercial] studio after this.”

Studio 301's main tracking room is home to a Steinway grand piano.

Hayes grew up in Southern California and earned his degree before moving to New York to work as a freelance composer and audio engineer. He has engineered music at the Banff Centre for the Arts and the Aspen Music Festival where he was a senior recording engineer. He was tapped by the Department of Music to revitalize the Music Media/Music Business program and joined the UT Arlington faculty three years ago.

While there are plenty of opportunities in the world of audio production, Hayes said, the true marker for success will be how many students are earning their living behind a sound board in five years and how many are able to adjust to meet whatever skill or technique the recording requires.

“At the end of the day, it’s not necessarily knowing how to record every single instrument in existence; it’s learning to use their ears musically,” he said. “That’s why being a good engineer is combing the technical skills of an engineer and the musical ears of a musician. It’s about using the tools because your ears tell you to.”

[Story by James Dunning, jdunning@uta.edu]

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