How to prepare for a career in audio:
an interview with Iain Booth.
At Musitechnic, we call him the “Dean”! Iain Booth has been one of our teachers since 2009, and a proud alumnus since 1993. Primarily responsible for teaching Audio Mixing and Sound Recording classes, Iain also prepares students for their professional lives with the Career Management class. With extensive and high-level professional experience, he has participated in the recording of Quebec music scene’s cult albums by artists such as Jean-Pierre Ferland, Jean Leloup, Daniel Bélanger, Le Cirque du Soleil, and many others. Not to mention his ten years of experience as Head of Sound department at Global Television. The “Dean” also has a solid track record behind the console. He has notably worked at many of the most important events in Montreal such as the Jazz Festival and shows at the Bell Centre.
Here are some of his tips to prepare for a career in audio:
Diversify your skills
For Iain, luck and unexpected opportunities certainly have a role to play in developing a career. But without the necessary preparation, they are futile. This is why he suggests that students take advantage of their time at school by trying everything in order to understand what appeals to them and what interests them less. According to Iain, ‘’you never feel ready enough to make the jump to your first professional experience. That’s why you have to learn to overcome your fears from the start and not stop at what you think you don’t like. We must test, practice, and do what is unknown to us during our learning phase to figure out what suits us best!’’
His experience has taught him how important flexibility is, when teaching concepts to a class of various personalities and cultures. One method he suggests to anyone who wants to understand the concepts, is to be able to put them into context. His approach seeks to condense a relevant amount of information into a real-life situation. The numerous anecdotes from his professional life certainly help him to contextualize his teaching! He speaks of this method as a “time releasing information capsule”. In fact, as he has experienced himself, Iain argues that ‘’it is during situations in their careers that students will remember those things they didn’t think they had assimilated.’’ They will remember these anecdotes told by their professors and at the right moment, react in the appropriate way.
Learn the power of meditation
Surprisingly, apart from information about available scholarships, guidelines for writing a CV, building a website, and other relevant advice, Iain teaches meditation practices in his Career Management course. For him, meditation is an important tool to prepare an aspiring sound producer for the reality of the audio world. Whether it is during live recordings or broadcasts or even album recordings, meditation helps students stay calm so they can make the right decisions during stressful times and issues. Iain also points out that ‘’an experiment shows that the concentration of a professional sound mixer would go so far as to equal unexpected meditative levels’’ as mentioned in the book Mixing with Your Mind by Michael Stavrou
Stay ahead of trends
Iain has served on several juries for festivals and grants. This allows him to listen to the different productions of the moment and to judge those that stand out the most. He also keeps up to date with new music trends, pitches, and websites and biography creation. Iain considers this an indispensable asset in order to stay relevant. Consequently, he enthusiastically passes on all his valuable findings to his students.