The Recording Arts Certificate is an interdisciplinary curriculum that addresses diverse interests in both sound and technology. The curriculum offers a foundation in musicianship, design, and recording technology, and opportunities for students to pursue specific interests in areas of composition, design, music history, physics of sound or business.
Lena Sutter, Sound Engineer, found herself arriving at UW-Eau Claire in the fall of 2019. Now six semesters in, Sutter supervises and instructs 4-6 student interns a semester who are pursuing the Recording Arts Certificate. “The primary internship project is for interns to work in groups of 2-3 and I assign them a band or artist to work with on campus. Over the course of the semester, they work together to produce a four song EP. Near the end of the semester, they send me drafts of the EP for feedback and then take a second crack at the mix. When they’re done, I master the record to make sure that everyone receives a pro-sounding recording. The goal at the end of the semester is that the musicians and the interns have a product that they are really proud of.” Sutter explains.
Sutter emphasizes how beneficial the internship is in showing students how much work goes into making a record - not just on the side of recording and mixing, but also learning how to work with others in the studio to bring out a great performance. The student interns are also responsible for building their own schedule for recording, editing, and mixing. Sutter’s educational background and professional experience translates to her work with students. Her work on different projects and artists allows a new approach to be given to her students. “I'm really adamant that there is no "right" way to make a record, it’s about finding the workflow and style that’s best for you. Many recording teachers have a very dogmatic about their processes, but I think exposing the students to different ways of making records helps my students figure out what works for them.”
Gabby Poller, a former student musician who worked with Lena and her interns, expresses their gratitude for the experience and working alongside Lena Sutter. “Working in the studio was a dream come true. Ever since I was little, I had a passion for music and song writing. I sent in material to Lena when the opportunity arose, and I never expected to be chosen to record an EP. Working with Lena and the interns was an experience I will never forget, they all made me feel so comfortable and confident when recording and we shared many laughs, while creating memories I will never forget. I cannot thank Lena, the interns, and the Music & Theatre Arts department enough for providing me with this opportunity. My experience fueled my passion more and made me realize how blessed I am to attend UW-Eau Claire.”
Marketing Analytics major, Kat Hulce, also shares their experience as a musician working with the Recording Arts Certificate interns. “I had never been exposed to any recording processes in an actual studio. While this could have been very intimidating, Lena always made sure we were comfortable and explained the technical jargon that we were not familiar with. Lena was able to share some of her experiences in the music industry to help us advance our project. Spending time in the studio always filled me with energy because I got to watch three people work on developing their passions for music. I had an amazing time working on my EP during this experience and I'm so honored I was a part of it.”
Lastly, Sydney Dobratz, a Recording Arts certificate graduate, had this to say about her experience: “I’ve had an extremely positive experience in the recording arts certificate program here at UWEC. The program is laid out in a way that makes it extremely easy for anyone new to recording arts to learn and get the hang of using the equipment. The introductory courses build an excellent foundation for beginners to thoroughly understand the material and prepare for lab time in the studio.
Lena is extremely wonderful to work with in the studio. She has a plethora of knowledge to share with students and she’s always very patient and understanding. She’s very approachable and will always do her best to answer any questions and help through the process of recording and mixing.
I really enjoyed the internship experience I had with Lena. I was grouped with another intern (Nathan Blaser) and we worked with a singer/songwriter duo to help them record and mix an original EP. The whole process of the internship was left up to us and Lena was there to guide us through any difficulties we faced during the process.
Studio time whether it was for Lena’s class, or the internship was always very relaxed, and Lena always made me feel comfortable and at home. Being in a studio and working with highly expensive and professional equipment can be extremely daunting, but I always felt supported and felt comfortable asking any questions I had.
Overall, the recording arts certificate program has been an incredible experience for me and if you’re wondering if it’s something you should try, I highly recommend it. I went into this knowing virtually nothing about recording arts and 2 years later I will be graduating with a certificate and confidence that I can produce a good mix and set up and use microphones correctly. This has been an experience I will value for the rest of my life and I have learned so much about an industry that I feel not many people have the opportunity to learn about.”