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AES Conference Focuses on Audio Education

AES 50th International Conference co-chairs Bill Crabtree (left) and Michael Fleming.

Photo: Kelly Ford

The Audio Engineering Society (AES) recently wrapped its 50th International Conference, dedicated specifically to audio education. The conference took place July 25-27, 2013, at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tenn., where more than 140 educators and industry representatives met to exchange ideas and experiences.

The AES reports that attendance far surpassed the organizers’ initial expectations, with attendees traveling to Murfreesboro from 25 U.S. states and 12 countries, including Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand. The event also for the first time included a significant focus on Live Sound as a component of a pro audio education curriculum, a fact underscored by the event’s keynote address delivered by Bob McCarthy, Senior Education Consultant at Meyer Sound, who gave an informative and entertaining presentation on the history of the Live Sound industry.

Bob McCarthy, Senior Education Consultant, Meyer Sound, gives his keynote address at the AES 50th International Conference.

Photo: Kelly Ford

The three-day conference focused on teaching methods, instructional resources, learning outcomes, technical operations, industry relations and related topics that impact the theoretical and practical aspects of professional audio education. Conference co-chairs Michael Fleming and Bill Crabtree organized a number of after-hours events in Murfreesboro and nearby Nashville, including an opening-day banquet dinner, a studio crawl with behind-the-scenes tours at Ocean Way Studios and historic RCA Studio B, a reception at the former RCA Studio A (now operating as Ben’s Studio, owned by Ben Folds) and a Lower Broadway honky-tonk outing.

“Our goals with this conference were to stimulate dialog among members of the audio teaching community and between the pro-audio industry and academia, so that there might be a greater sense of understanding and confidence in our respective missions,” says Fleming. “In many ways, the profession of teaching professional audio from an academic and practical point of view is very young, and we think this conference was a giant step toward helping establishing a sense of community, as well as shared standards and awareness of the different directions and emphases these programs can have. Clearly, there are three sets of beneficiaries from this work: audio students, audio faculty and our peers in industry.”

The Recording Academy held a panel entitled, “Pearl-Cohn High School: A Case Study of Collaboration Between Industry and Education.” From left: Susan Stewart (The Recording Academy), Jeff Balding (The Recording Academy Producers & Engineers Wing), Sam Lorber (Pearl-Cohn High School), Laurie T. Schell (Music Makes Us, Metro Nashville Public Schools), Julian King (P&E Wing) and Maureen Droney (Senior Executive Director, P&E Wing).

Photo: Robert Clyne

The conference’s experts addressed attendees through paper presentations, workshops and discussions. The published conference proceedings contain more than 30 peer-reviewed papers, including historical perspectives, survey instruments, case-studies and recommendations for educational resource management and development. In addition, eight workshops and tutorials touched on topics including pedagogy; instructional resources; internships; critical-listening and ear-training; partnerships with industry and professional organizations; learning outcomes and academic standards, accreditation and program administration.

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