Alex Drosen

Alex Drosen

Whether it’s microphone placement, editing, or signal processing, one’s creative goals and knowledge of theory should guide his or her decisions. Alex Drosen , Faculty , The Illinois Institute of Art — Schaumburg
What would you say is the defining moment in your life when you knew you were destined to become a creative professional?

I began experimenting with home recording and music composition in my early teens, spurred by my obsessive interest in recorded music across genres, and my interest in technology. Being accepted into undergraduate music technology programs as a high school student boosted my confidence and determination to find my place in the audio profession.

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?

Working in the audio field requires one to be flexible, persistent, and easy to work with. I try to share the diversity of work that I have done—music, film, live sound—to impress upon students the importance of meeting every project with the same level of professionalism and seriousness. Making it in the industry often requires one to pick up a variety of work, and that means making connections that keep coming back.

Is there a class assignment that exemplifies your approach to teaching and mentoring? 

I like to keep the technical requirements and objectives of my assignments very clear, while leaving the content of a project open to the individual student’s interests. The technical side of the audio production curriculum is very important and integral to a student’s professional success after graduation. While students develop their skills with the various tools and techniques of the field, I encourage them to experiment and pursue their interests. I demand a certain level of creative engagement. Assignments are not only assessments of students’ abilities with software, or retention of lecture topics. My goal is for every student to come out of my class with a finished project that they are proud of, which speaks to their creative perspective as well as their skills. I feel that the curriculum sticks with students better when they have had a chance to apply it in their own way. Passionate individuals, who inspire those around them to do their best, are able to find rewarding work in their chosen profession, and I encourage students to find that drive within.

What role does collaboration contribute to students' success, especially when students from other programs contribute to the same project?

I enjoy teaching courses that are cross-listed between the Digital Film & Video Production and Audio Production departments. Students in these two departments make lasting connections with each other as they move into the professional world. Working collaboratively on classwork helps develop crucial communication skills and professionalism that students will take with them into every job. Students get the chance to prove to each other—and to themselves—that they can be counted on to deliver high-quality work.

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? 

In audio production, attention to detail and clarity of vision are very important aspects of working efficiently. I challenge my students to understand the subtleties of the tools and techniques we use, and to be goal-oriented in their choices. Whether it’s microphone placement, editing, or signal processing, one’s creative goals and knowledge of theory should guide his or her decisions. In the earlier production classes, we spend a lot of time comparing the subtle differences between various techniques, and discussing situations in which one would choose one technique over another, so that as students move forward they can work with confidence and efficiency.