Webster University strives for diversity in its audio production program. The university graduates audio professionals capable of working successfully in a variety of audio fields. These fields include music recording, film sound, audio for video, radio/television broadcasting, theatrical sound design, sound reinforcement, audio facility management and audio for computer applications. The faculty speaks frankly about audio production as a career choice and the jobs available in the audio industry. While audio is a medium itself, it is also an important aspect of other media requiring skilled audio professionals. Consequently, course content and the university's audio facilities reflect this attitude.
Audio techniques and concepts are taught with related examples. A topic might apply not only to music recording but also film or video. Multitrack Recording (AUDI 3000), is an excellent example of this philosophy. While students enrolled in this class learn how to record music, they also spend the second half of each semester producing a radio play. Radio plays are chosen because they embody all the elements of professional audio production. Students learn to work with a director, script, cast and crew.
The audio program also offers several courses that combine students from different disciplines, such as Jingles (AUDI 3700) which brings together audio majors, advertising majors and composition majors to collaborate on music for advertising, or Soundtracks (AUDI 4500) which combines film majors in need of a soundtrack with audio majors interested in the process of creating and synchronizing audio for film and video.
While a goal in other audio programs might be to produce a finished tape for compact disc mastering, Webster students can also produce a compact disc for broadcast over the university's media streaming station. The station is in many ways a prime focus of the Audio Program.
Students regularly have the opportunity to produce music recordings, radio "spots" and other material for streaming. The finished projects are broadcast to the campus on KGLX-AM and streamed in MP3 format around the world. As a result, audio students are able to evaluate their projects from inception to "airplay." The ability to evaluate one's work from initial concept to final consumer product is an important one.
There are also ample opportunities for audio students to engineer live recording, sound reinforcement and sound for interactive media. Students are encouraged to broaden their knowledge of media by taking electives in such areas as broadcasting, video, film, computers, etc.
"Hands on" operation of audio equipment is another emphasis of the program. Students are both "talent" and "engineer" as early as Audio I (AUDI 1000). They routinely use class time to learn audio techniques and participate in demonstrations. Each student is solely responsible for the technical quality of his/her projects. Several courses contain "competency exams" in addition to assignments and conventional written tests. To pass the course, each student must demonstrate practical technical ability with the equipment.
Watch video feature about audio engineer and program alumna Chelsea VandeDrink.
The concept of "stereo" is also a very important part of the program. A stereo broadcast, soundtrack or master tape is the final goal of most audio productions. Students learn the psychoacoustic fundamentals behind it and explore its uses. Well before any introduction to multitrack recording, Webster students are taught stereo's importance and learn to use it effectively. Subtleties such as "monaural compatibility" and the use of "surround sound" are extensions of good stereo production and are an important part of the curriculum.
Webster University intelligently incorporates new techniques and technology into the program. Nothing is rushed into place. While "cut and splice" audio editing is taught in Audio I (AUDI 1000), basic audio editing on a computer is taught in Audio II (AUDI 2000). Digital recording principles are part of Audio II, but analog tape recorder alignment still remains an important part of Basic Audio Studio Maintenance (AUDI 3200). Given the importance of MIDI (Music Instrument Digital Interface), Webster has devoted several courses to it and recently added a MIDI Suite. Computer literacy itself is a vital part of audio. The ability to use a variety of software on a Macintosh or IBM compatible computer creatively is an important skill for every audio student, and these skills are developed in the new Digital Suite.
The history of the audio industry is similarly crucial to the Audio Program. Having a sense of history helps students develop a better perspective. They learn to appreciate the challenges overcome, identify the ones ahead and create a vision for the future. It also enables the student to see his/her place in that industry. Discussion of audio pioneers and innovative technology lead to a sense of continuity and a logical understanding of where the audio industry stands today, and prepares students for the challenges of the future.
Department Chair: Barry Hufker
Office phone 314-246-7654
Departmental Support: Vernetta Bishop