Classrooms and homework assignments are just a couple aspects of a comprehensive education experience. For those of us who study and/or teach in American University’s Audio Technology Program, immersing ourselves in the rich culture of Washington, DC, adds color and shape to our professional development.
This past December, the AU Audio Technology Program partnered with the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestra to capture their “Winter Soundscapes” performance at Strathmore. As an adjunct professor and a master’s student in the Audio Technology Program at AU, I was lucky enough to enjoy and learn from the experience.
The Music Center at Strathmore is a 1,976-seat concert hall located just north of DC in Bethesda, Maryland. The venue presents more than 150 performances a year and is home to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, the National Philharmonic, and the Maryland Classic Youth Orchestras.
The “Winter Soundscapes” event and experience were a great success. We captured the symphony, chamber ensemble, and philharmonic orchestras without a hiccup. As an audio professional, it was a pleasure to work at a world-class facility such as the Strathmore. The acoustics of the concert hall are perfectly tuned, so even the quietest passages of the performance could be heard throughout the audience.
My studies and work in the graduate program at American University prepared me for this opportunity in many ways. For instance, having access to an endless gear selection allowed me to test many different microphones and microphone techniques on a variety of instruments.
Critical listening–a huge component of our graduate curriculum at AU–proved extremely valuable during my time at Strathmore. My knowledge of how simply moving microphones can affect the balance of a recording was important in preparation for the event.
The most enjoyable part of the experience, though, was the actual performance. I’d never attended an orchestral performance—neither as an engineer or patron. Once the main prep work was complete and the music began, I could actually relax for a moment. I could focus and reflect on what both the process and the product mean to audio enthusiasts like me.
Seeing the byproduct of incredible musicians mixed with expert audio engineering was an experience I’ll never forget. It’s why you study audio technology in the first place. It was quite a sight—and sound.
Matt Twiford is a graduate student and adjunct professor living in Washington, DC. He will graduate with a master’s degree in audio technology from American University in May and he has a bachelor’s degree in music production from Full Sail University. Matt plays guitar, writes music, and freelance engineers in his free time.
Washington DC provides countless opportunities for American University students. Learn about achieving a master’s degree in audio technology from AU.