Interested in our pre-degree music technology programmes but worried about limiting your options? Meet the past students who prove a diploma from dBs can open many doors, both inside and outside the audio industry.
Whether you’re weighing up your options for post-16 study or thinking about re-engaging with education as a mature student, choosing a pathway can feel like a lot of pressure. You want to set yourself up for success in the future, but your interests are diverse and you can’t say for sure where that future may lie. We know that ‘getting it right’ can seem like the be-all and end-all, but the reality is, it’s only just the beginning!
At dBs, our pre-degree programmes are designed to equip students with the knowledge, experience and connections to thrive in the sound and music industry. However, they also develop a diverse range of creative, academic and professional skills with applications that stretch far beyond this. From learning how to research, reference and structure papers for university-level study, to building your project management, teamwork and presentation abilities, these skills create many transferable opportunities in terms of subject area. But don’t take our word for it. Read on to hear from six past-students about the diverse pathways they’ve taken since studying with us and how their diplomas helped them prepare for the next step of their educational and professional journeys.
Rachel Locke – Software developer
After completing her diploma in DJ and Electronic Music, Rachel progressed onto our FdA in Music and Audio Technology. She is currently working part-time as a Software Engineer with an audio-tech startup called Vochlea whilst she completes her MSc in Digital Audio Engineering. She plans to go full-time in this role when she graduates in the summer.
Rachel said: “Attending dBs was a milestone in my life in more ways than one. I was able to discover a vocation I deeply love; I had the privilege of being the student of educators whose lives had been truly devoted to sound. I consider myself profoundly fortunate to have been taught by those still thrilled by their craft.
“I went into dBs quite single-mindedly wanting to be a DJ and I left with a deep love and appreciation for the sonic arts, experimental sound, the psychology of sound, human-computer interaction, and electronics.
“The brilliant minds at dBs instilled us with curiosity and cultivated multi-disciplinary education that I now know to be rare. This attitude has led to finding exactly where it is that I fit into the audio technology industry. Without this exploratory approach, I may not have had the confidence to take on the various challenges that have led me to a career as an audio signal processing engineer.
“Learning about the digital tools that musicians, DJs, and sound engineers use and the way in which they use them has helped me to better understand audio software and plugin architecture. In my current role, this knowledge will allow me to build better audio software, that meets the needs of its users.”
Ben White – Show Designer
After completing his Music Production Diploma, Ben progressed onto our BA in Music Production and Sound Engineering. For the final project of his degree, he developed a visual projection installation called Tesseract, which he says laid the foundations for his subsequent career in show design.
“The tutors at dBs played a really big role in what I’m doing now. It all stemmed from two tutors in particular – Joe and Rich. One day when I was over at Location House, they were there playing around with some projection stuff and I thought to myself “this is hella fun!” So, I started running with what they were doing and then, when it came to the end of my degree, I decided to explore projections for my final project.
I had this tutor Emmanuelle, who encouraged total creativity. He would really push us to just let our brains go mental and do the craziest, out-there projects we could think of. He would say “the madder, more unique something is, the better it is because no-one else is going to think of it, so just go with what you feel.” That really rubbed off on me and so for my final project, I decided I was going to do something that no-one else has ever done before, and something that probably, no-one else will ever do again. I ended up getting a first and everything sort of escalated from there. Different people started asking me to do projections for local shows and from there I decided to look into the industry and how I could build my own business within it.”
Eve Charlotte Haywood – Fashion Design Student
Eve completed the DJ and Electronic Music Diploma after taking part in a week-long course at our Bristol centre run by Saffron Records. She has since moved to London where she continues to DJ whilst studying for a degree in fashion. Eve said:
“The most valuable aspect of the diploma for me was the networking I got out of it. I met some great people and also learnt skills which helped me understand the music, which I liked. This has been really helpful in general as I will always be a music lover.
“From an academic perspective, my time at dBs helped me understand the uni experience. The work and teaching were very independent which really prepared me for starting my fashion degree. Studying DJ and Electronic Music also led me to the realisation that in the future I want to design/style for people in the music industry. I have recently discovered techno fashion which was inspired by the techno scene in the early 90s. I think that's pretty cool that a music genre can also tie into clothing. I can't work without listening to music and I also think it's a massive help when getting it all done! “Oh and to add to that... I don't think you can have a fashion show without music! It's a huge part!”
Tom Edwards – Dubbing mixer and Post-production Consultant
Since completing his diploma at dBs, Tom has worked for over ten years in broadcast television as a dubbing mixer and post-production manager. He has also founded his own recording and post-production company Windwhistle Studio. Tom said:
“The diploma was a valuable asset in proving to my employers at the time, that I had undertaken the study and had an advantage in showing that I had the skillset to pursue in an audio career. The diploma was a foundation for me to build my career on and I still use the things and apply the fundamentals I've learnt in it to this day.
“A key skill gained, which I probably appreciate now more than ever, was learning how to deal with professionals and creatives from all walks of life and adapting my ways of working to different practical situations. Whether that’s working with a VIP in the recording studio, or liaising with a production team for an ongoing project. Since starting my new business last year, I have found that every day is different and brings a whole new set of challenges. dBs helped to prepare me for the creative world of work and the highs and lows that come with it.”
Olly Bignell – Haunt the Woods Drummer
Since completing his Music Production Diploma at dBs, Olly has gone on to enjoy huge success with his band Haunt the Woods.
Olly said: “Doing a live sound module as part of my diploma meant that I became familiar with how bands are recorded live, stuff like monitoring and all the different roles within a music venue, so that’s obviously been super relevant. It meant that when I came round to playing in bigger venues with the band, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on, which took the anxiety out of it!
“The electronic side of things crossed over really well too because our producer uses Logic, the software my course was based on. So that really helped when we were recording our album as I could understand what was going on with him”.
“One of the great things about dBs was all the connections we made. Loads of opportunities have arisen through the people we met. For example, we met our current sound engineer Bruce through dBs. He was studying on the Live Sound course. We were also allowed to use the spaces to do tech rehearsals which meant we felt way more prepared for playing live than we would have otherwise.”
Ibou Tall – Jazz Musician turned Film Composer
Ibou is a composer and jazz musician who had been touring for 30 years before joining dBs. He joined the Access to Higher Education Music Production course to become more self-sufficient in the production of his own music, as well as to gain the qualifications necessary to progress onto a degree in Music Composition for Film and TV.
Ibou said: “The different modules we covered, such as sound design and music production have allowed me to get in the mindset of a sound designer and sound engineer. Prior to this, I had always left sound engineers to mix and master my music. I would hire a sound engineer to run musical software such as Logic Pro. Now, being able to do it myself saves me lots of time and money.
“Despite having many years of experience as a professional musician, it is a very interesting experience to be able to expand my skills into new musical genres and a great opportunity to learn the language of film music. I expect to have more opportunities as a composer after completing this interesting but challenging degree.”
Ready to take your next step? Find out more about our different diploma subjects here.