Students from around the world

12 students from 11 different countries are taking part in the Music Production and Recording programme at the University of Stavanger. “We’ve become so international here that Norwegian students have been in the minority for ages now”, jokes the programme coordinator, Mark Drews.

The Music Production and Recording programme attracts students from around the world. The Music Production and Recording programme attracts students from around the world.

Classical tones resonate from the monitors in the basement studio of the Department of Music and Dance in Bjergsted this morning. Tomas Gajarsky, an exchange student from Slovakia, made a recording at a concert earlier this week. Now, he wants feedback from the class and his subject teacher and mentor, Mark Drews.

Learning from each other’s work

“Where was the nearest microphone? And where’s that buzzing noise coming from? Is it from the piano?” asks a fellow student, Zack Bresler, from Nebraska in the US.

Every week, there is a review of the various projects in which the students are involved. According to the Programme Coordinator and Associate Professor, Mark Drews, the students find this particularly useful.

“The students learn a lot from working together and from mentoring one another. We have a very open and relaxed atmosphere in class, but there’s only room for constructive feedback” he says, adding that “the students also appreciate that acclaimed sound engineers are quite often hired to give masterclasses”.

Involved in nearly everything

The students on the Music Production and Recording programme are involved in nearly everything that is happening on the music scene in Stavanger. They are in constant contact with their fellow students in the Department of Music and Dance who want their projects recorded.

Many of them are in charge of sound during concerts at the Spor 5 music venue and Folken, a cultural student complex run by the Student Society in Stavanger. They are also often hired to work for a number of different festivals. Some of the students are also currently involved in the recording of a new CD with the Stavanger Symphony Orchestra.

According to Drews, it is this practical approach that makes the programme so popular, attracting sound technicians from countries far from Norway — such as Mexico, Bangladesh, Lebanon and Iran this year.

“In this programme, they get numerous opportunities to work on recordings and various techniques within music production while also getting to work with professional musicians”, Drews explains.

Norwegians in the minority

Even though they are students, most of them have a lot of experience in the field, and we only accept qualified applicants. The programme was originally set up as a further education course for professional sound technicians from NRK (Norsk rikskringkasting AS — Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation) in 1993–1994. However, over time, it has developed into a course for musicians and sound technicians who want to develop their expertise within music production and recording through practical experience and research. 

The programme has had an international profile for many years. During the last 20 years, students from over 30 different countries have graduated. 

“We’ve become so international here that Norwegian students are now in the minority. This year, there is only one student with Norwegian ancestry and another who was born and raised in Norway, while the others come from around the world: Colombia, the US, Serbia, Iran — you name it”, Drews says laughing.

“Everything sounded the same”

The students report that they are very pleased with the programme, the environment and the city itself. Ann Laborovà, an exchange student from the Czech Republic says that she is really enjoying life in Stavanger.

“At home in the Czech Republic, I’m pursuing a bachelor’s programme in Music Audio Engineering, but the sound education there is very theoretical. The practical opportunities are so much better here” she explains.

Sabbir Ahmed from Bangladesh says that he picked this programme because he was fed up doing the same thing over and over, and he also really wanted to try something completely different.

“I was working on different jobs in a studio in Bangladesh. After a while, all the jobs began to feel very similar, and everything I was working on suddenly sounded the same. I decided that I needed a break and some inspiration. I feel that I’ve gotten that here”, he says.

Text: Maria Gilje Torheim
Photo: Private