February 12, 2009

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The sound factory
MCMS opens doors to new music and recording lab
By Dana Unger dunger@hippopress.com

Manchester Community Music School has gone high-tech. The not-for-profit school has introduced a new state-of-the-art music lab and recording studio into its program lineup, with the recording studio in particular already becoming a resource for local musicians.

“We have had anywhere from rock bands coming in and recording, to students coming in and needing a recording for a college audition, which is actually a pretty big need in the area,” said Jeanine Tousignant, Vice President of Advancement for the school. “You don’t have to be a student at the music school to get a recording, and it’s open to the public, so anyone can come in.”

In addition to the recording studio, the school is offering classes in musical editing and engineering, including Live Sound for the Performing Musician, Contemporary Songwriting, and courses incorporating music software like GarageBand, Sibelius and ProTools.

MCMS will host an open house for the new studio and lab on Saturday, Feb. 14, from 10 a.m. to noon, at 2291 Elm St., Manchester. Tousignant says that the open house is a way for the school to let the public see for themselves the sort of musical possibilities available to them.

“The open house is to get the word out,” Tousignant said. “We had an open house in the fall, which was really successful, and we’re doing a longer one this time. It’s really nice for people to come, sit at a computer, and see what it’s really like — what you can really do.”

With so many taking advantage of music editing software these days, Tousignant says that offering classes using the latest software and equipment was a natural decision for the school.

“We’re of course always trying to keep up with the times and respond to emerging trends in the music education field,” Tousignant said. “Audio engineering and recording are two of the largest growing fields for music education.”

But it’s the recording studio that will have local singers and bands salivating. Equipped with state-of-the-art audio and computer editing equipment, the studio offers a bevy of services for the public to take advantage of at a cost of $60 an hour.

“They will have a session with a recording studio technologist to get the levels right, and we provide all the microphones and recording equipment,” Tousignant said.

If you are looking for some help with a musical project, you might be interested in the school’s new one-on-one tech assistance service, called “Rent-A Tech.” As Tousignant described it, “You get personalized instruction at a technology lab with one of our technicians, so if you have a specific project that you want to work on and you don’t want to take a class … you can rent one of our techs to help you with it.” Rent-A-Tech’s reach includes everything from mixing and sound engineering to composition software and a host of other services.

The folks at MCMS hope that the new music lab and recording studio will bring out those curious and hungry to develop their musical knowledge, no matter what their experience level is.

“There are no requirements, anyone can come in and take a class,” Tousignant said. “We’ve had people who have always wanted to learn how to write music but have never learned how to read music come in and take classes. It runs the gamut.”

Hopefully for the musicians taking advantage of the new facilities, it will mean a step toward their own musical goals, with MCMS looking to bring them to that next level.

“We like to think of it as taking the garage band out of the garage,” Tousignant said.