Where should I study in order to become a professional?

Where should I study in order to become a professional?

Since the beginning of my career as a musician, I studied how to record, mix and compose all by myself. It was not because I wanted, but because the university of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, don’t allow musicians to learn more than one thing in their bachelor’s degree. So, since I’m in the bachelor degree of classical music, I can’t attend classes about mixing and stuff… I can just learn how to perform classical music and that’s it.

So, that being said, I wanted you guys’ opinion about how to study mixing and recording (and everything in between that is important) in order to work as a professional. Also, I don’t want to give up studying classical music, because I love it.

Is there any distance learning course that would give a degree in its completion? Which would you recommend? Also, wich universities do you guys know that have an international scholarship that would be viable? Master’s degree options would be nice to know too.

Sorry for the long text by the way. I literally have no one to ask these things.

Very good question. Glad you asked.

Just for context, in the US, many music curriculums have ‘elective’ classes that can be taken in addition to the music major. So its a fair analysis to understand that this is the exception to a curriculum and not the norm.

I did the same thing, and I’m glad I did. I studied the music in college, then learned the technology after. Classical training gives you and edge and competitive advantage which for me, many times was the difference between being able to stay in music vs get a day job. So you’re doing a good thing.

As far as how to train, sound engineering can be learned outside of the university, musicianship can not. You will never be able to immerse yourself in an environment where you can grow and be challenged by the most elite musicians in your country without attending a university.

Also, the credentials and the degree in sound engineering don’t carry as much weight in the modern market as the training you can only receive from a university as a musician.

I learned sound engineering simply by doing it. Start with a small rig and record anyone you can, even if its for free at first. Edit these projects. Mix these projects. Download example projects and study them. When you need tips and advice on where to place mics, and how to use tools such as EQ, compression, time based effects, and DAW techniques, I watched tons of videos online. Anything you can find that makes sense. Also, post stuff on ‘bash this recording’.

Try different compressors and EQ units. Isolate an acoustic guitar track. Apply different kinds of compression. Play with transient designer plugins, saturation plugins, and doubler effects. Get familiar with what each type of processor does to each source. Learn basics of where to place microphones through experimentation. There are hundreds of different mics you can place on an acoustic piano. There are dozens of different ways you can position them. There are some basic laws of physics that will help you understand why something DOESN’T work, but they’re not mandatory to know. Your ears will guide you much more than mathematics will.

Also, read articles on the internet, and spend time reading magazine articles. I assure you that a self-taught engineer can eventually learn to compete with other pro engineers. Find someone to apprentice or intern with.

If you have survived a classical music program at an accredited and respected college, you most likely have the musical instincts to compete in this field. Having both piano skills and practical experience with sound engineering will go a LONG way if you’re looking to do this for a living.


I’d agree with that. It can be helpful, but I think you can do as much or more on your own - in terms of education - if you put your mind to it. There’s literally a wealth of information out there now, much of it on the internet (and free). I think sound engineering schools can help with contacts and networking, if that’s one of your goals, but it’s a long time commitment and usually a quite expensive route to go.

That’s the tried-and-true “old school” route, and I think it still has its place. I think the difference now is that those opportunities are different or more limited than they used to be in the “real world”, but are near limitless online. You can get a similar education by taking courses online or hanging out in academies with interactive communities, but if you can find a dedicated teacher or mentor online that would probably be ideal … and as close as you can come to the traditional studio internship. There’s likely going to be a significant cost for that too, if you can afford it.

In situations like yours, I’d advocate for doing it yourself as much as possible, figuring out what your areas of interest are and what you need to know. Then go about designing your own curriculum and educate yourself based around that. Mentors can come and go, but if you’re firm in your own direction you could be helping yourself immensely. And after all, self-motivation and insight are some of the main skills you’ll need anyway, and creating and following your own curriculum helps develop that.

And as Jonathan suggests, whatever you learn, try to “apply” it frequently and consistently. Knowledge only goes so far, but skills become habits and habits become your destiny.


In my opinion it all depends on how inclined you are at the technical side of things (producing, recording, mixing). If you have a natural inclination, you can get by without a formal academic training as long as you are willing to spend a lot of time reading books, watching videos and be clever enough to sort out the good stuff from the flawed tutorials. In my experience there is some content that is not good on the internet, especially when it comes to the more “advanced” stuff like mastering or acoustics.

I have taken 1-month courses with Berklee Online and I would highly recommend that to a beginner. I have completed 2 of them: “the art of music production” and “music business foundations”. You get to have a certificate at the end if you pass the test but it’s not worth much in the industry. However it’s nice to be able to display a certificate with the Berklee College of Music logo and your name on it.

There are a few good books out there. For a beginner I would recommend Mixerman’s Survival Guide to a Killer Record, which covers a wide array of the production process (self-production, that is). Besides, its author is on this very forum. @Mixerman

Good luck anyway!

Jonathan’s reply is as good as it gets, and everyone else has given great advice for you to absorb.
Studying classical at a University is a dream environment. Your ears, your proficiency at your instrument, your collaboration with other musicians are all lifelong achievements.
Where you will have a huge advantage from the technical side will actually be in arranging and producing. The knowledge and application of music theory is only enjoyed by a select few. The normal band going into a small studio doesn’t know an A minor chord from a monkey wrench. You would be able to lay out arrangements and voicing and orchestration that would be like black magic to beginners.
Being a top level engineer is an art form in itself. The really good guys are producer/engineers who can add movement and focus to music. Guess what, they all started by twiddling knobs and learned by experience. You can absorb a lot of that on sites like this, and by watching the millions of videos out there about your DAW of choice. You could also spend a pantload of money getting a degree, but the value of the degree does not guarantee success. Use your music education to refine your ears; when you know what it’s supposed to sound like, combined with what chord and orchestration should be happening, the knob turning and eq twiddling becomes a lot easier. The ebbs and flows in classical music had to be written into the scores, and the emotional content had to be assigned to specific instruments to portray it. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be a composer and conductor rather than an expert on compression. Engineering is a skill learned by experience, at least until you get into the big leagues where you are known for “your sound”. Having trained ears and musical theory as tools gives you a vastly wider area to work in as you refine your engineering skills.