CHILLICOTHE― When people think of producing music some may think of going to Nashville, L.A. or another big city, however, The Rec W is working to create audio engineers and music producers right here in the backroads of Chillicothe.
The school is the oldest short-term music trade school in the world as the first class was held in 1977, since then it has seen over 19,000 students come through from all around the world. The original creator, Joe Water, started the school with one studio after he started selling musical equipment. Since then the school has continued to grow and expand.
The core program is a five-week workshop where students get hands-on experience and build a foundation of skills in audio production. There is also an advanced two-week program students can take after they complete the core program which allows them to get a more in-depth and advanced look at recording sessions and production.
Aaron Seagraves, operations manager, said the school is big on giving students a hands-on experience so they are often in the studio on the second day of classes. While they do have daily lectures students are also able to put what they learn into action immediately.
“The big thing we try to do is maximize the hands-on time,” said Seagraves.
One way the school gives hands-on experience is by allowing students to work with local bands on recording albums and EPs. In compensation for working with students, which may take longer, the band receives free recording time. This opportunity helps both the students and the bands who may not have any other place to record.
The campus has several state-of-the-art studios with new digital technology and all the tools needed to create an amazing product. While the school boasts industry-standard technology they also have vintage equipment. The original studio built in the 70s is still a part of the school. Currently, they use this space to help teach students about live music production. This includes concerts, plays and other large events.
General audio production skills can be used in almost all forms of entertainment. This includes television shows and movies, like Shrek, Stuart Little, Men in Black and NCIS. Students also get practice recording in a foley pit, which are different small pits filled with different sounding surfaces like gravel, metal and paper to mimic grass. They also get to experiment with making sound effects out of household objects. These sounds are added to most movies during post-production.
Ultimately, after the program students leave with a TheRec W certification and a portfolio of quality work that can be used to find a job in the audio business. They also become part of a large alumni group that can help them make connections. Students who have graduated from the program have gone on to work with major-recording artists.
“There are a lot of our graduates out in the field,” said Seagraves.
Seagraves said they are trying to teach students what they need in order to make a career out of audio editing. Instructors also work with those in the industry to make sure what they are teaching will give students a leg up. This includes all of the fundamentals they will need as well as how to act professionally and create connections.
“We are trying to train people for careers,” said Seagraves.
One student, Nate Moore from Cincinnati, said he hopes to make a career out of music production so he came to the school to get a solid foundation. Another student, Lalo Farro, came to the school from Connecticut for the same reason- a solid foundation. Farro said he is “loving” being able to learn more production skills.
Not every student comes to the school to become a producer for other people. Seagraves said some students are artists who want to become better at producing their own music. One student, Tony Eallonardo, taught photo and video classes. He joined the school to learn more about the audio aspect of it and to gain more skills that he can pass on to his students.
To learn more about the Rec W and the programs they offer visit the school’s website.
Shelby Reeves is a reporter for the Chillicothe Gazette. You can email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @Shelby_Reeves_