Learning how to keep learning is the most important knowledge to gain. Kyle Evans , Instructor , The Art Institute of Austin, a branch of The Art Institute of Houston
One of the most significant influences in my life was getting my first set of turntables in the 8th grade. I began exploring mixing, mashing and scratching every type of record I could find at second-hand stores. From electronica to punk rock, I exposed myself to more music than I ever knew existed. My technical skills developed as I began expanding my setup to include drum machines, synthesizers, computers and even video projection, but it all started with two cheap turntables, a mixer and a crate full of vinyl.
How do you weave your professional background into the classroom experience to provide an industry veteran's sense of the realities / challenges / opportunities of the profession?
The key is to make the classroom hands-on. Not just teaching the material, but making sure each student fully understands every aspect of a subject of technology by sitting down and having them practice techniques again and again. This helps students to not just understand something in theory, but also in practice. With a hands-on focus, students can take the lessons they have had the opportunity to learn in the classroom and immediately turn around and begin implementing it into their own work.
Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? Similarly, how does your approach inspire each student to push themselves beyond their own perceived limits?
I give the students old radio and television scripts and recordings that I actually worked on in the field. I walk them through the exact process of what I would do to make the commercial or film sound its best, then the students get a chance to work on them. This gives them a real-world understanding of the type of projects they’ll come across in the field. I always allow the students to explore their own creative methods to modifying the projects, giving each one a personal touch. I love to see students come up with their own processes that go beyond the basics of any assignment.
What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?
Collaboration is key in the media industry. Being a good collaborator is something that is learned through practice. Working with others gives you the ability to make the best of your own abilities by reinforcing your creative process with others. But collaboration is not always simple. It takes fully understanding your practice, as well as developing a vocabulary to communicate between other professionals inside and outside the industry. In my classes, students get the opportunity to not only develop their individual practice, but also explore collaborations across programs, broadening their technical and creative potential.
In your opinion, what is the single most important thing you impart to your students to help them succeed in your class and in the real world? Alternatively, what is the most critical advice you would offer any student as he / she embarks on a creative career?
Never stop learning, and never stop adapting. Audio production is a fluid industry that seems to change almost daily. I am not doing my job if I only teach students technical methods. Instead, I need to make sure that students understand how to learn new techniques on their own once they are in the field. Learning how to keep learning is the most important knowledge to gain. This includes knowing where to research and troubleshoot problems, knowing what questions to ask and where to ask them, and understanding how to creatively explore technology through “out-of-the-box” methods to develop their own creative style.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know about you, your experience, or your role as a faculty member at The Art Institutes?
As a teacher, I find it important to learn from my students as much as they learn from me. My students are always bringing new, fresh, creative ideas to the classroom. The more I learn from them, the more I can encourage them to peruse their unique brand of creativity.