Keeping up with technology

RUMFORD — When RSU 10 students take Audio Engineering at Mountain Valley High School, they earn not only high school credits but credits at New England School of Communication (NESCom) in Bangor. That means they have to learn using the most up-to-date technology.

Under the direction of music teacher Michael Prescott, MVHS participated in audio engineering competitions, and was awarded first place for both consecutive years that the contest was offered.

Anthony Boucher shows off the newly updated recording studio at Mountain Valley High School.

Anthony Boucher shows off the newly updated recording studio at Mountain Valley High School.

Prescott explained, “When I first came to MVHS, I made it a priority to offer audio engineering as a course of study, and it has been very successful ever since. Currently, the students have hands-on experience with current trends in professional audio as well as the knowledge base that is required for training in the professional world.”

The MVHS audio engineering program has undergone a structural and recording hardware transformation for the 2013-2014 academic year. This includes a new 48 Channel Tascam firewire based DM-4800 mixing board, Eleven Rack system, Pro Tools 11, and a variety of plugins. Although the equipment is modest by many professional standards, the students have the opportunity for hands-on connectivity using signal routing and outboard resources. This is a unique aspect to secondary music technology education, and it is important in preparing students for studies in professional audio.

Boucher explained, “We redid the custom desk to make the larger mix board fit. We did a bunch of rearranging in the studio. The new TV monitors were mounted on the wall. They show the mixing board and all the new controls.”

“Students and Mr. Prescott wired everything together,” Boucher said. “Doc (custodian Jim Gamache) helped with the carpentry.”

When he is not working in the audio engineering studio, Boucher plays alto saxophone in the MVHS band.

Prescott said, “I have been planning this transformation for a while, and this year I was able to make it happen. The last hardware update occurred in 2007, which is an eternity in the digital age, and aside from regular maintenance, we should be well established for many classes to come.”

The new equipment was funded from the school’s budget. However, Prescott sold some outdated recording equipment to aid in the purchase of the new.

Prescott explained, “I am a former manager of Daddy’s Junky Music in Portland, so I have a great deal of experience in getting the right equipment for the right price. It also helps to have made a number of connections in the industry over the years, so I get some incredible deals.”

Prescott takes instruction with Grammy award-winning mastering engineer Adam Ayan, as part of his masters degree in music, and continues to study the field in order to provide the most relevant training for his students.

“Not only do I plan to continue this area of study, but I would like expand its offering to more students in RSU 10,” Prescott concluded.