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Each month an industry expert highlights a topic of importance to the AES community.
Listen, Learn, and Connect with advances in technology and best practices in audio.

Audio Education

From its founding in 1948, the AES has embraced education in its mission to promote advances in audio and disseminate new knowledge and research. Formal audio education programs in colleges and universities have a more recent history, appearing in Europe and the United States in the 1960s and early 1970s. Today, hundreds of colleges, universities, career schools, high schools and even recording studios offer courses in audio, particularly in music and media production. Many manufacturers also provide technology-specific educational materials, training courses and certifications. Approximately 23 percent of AES members are current or recent students, and the large numbers of students who attend AES conventions, coupled with the popularity of tutorial sessions, career-counseling and educational events at these major meetings, provide clear evidence that students are eager to pursue training and potential careers in audio.

The structure and content of audio programs is diverse, reflecting variables of history, tradition, local need and available expertise. Most academic audio programs throughout the world, though, are oriented in one of three general directions:

  1. toward music recording, production, and live entertainment;
  2. toward mass communication, including electronic journalism, broadcasting and film; or
  3. allied with the engineering arts and sciences, including electrical engineering, signal processing, acoustics and psychophysics.

Different pedagogical traditions exist in these areas, and faculty face distinct curricular challenges depending on the focus, size, selectivity, funding and accreditation of their programs. Nonetheless, are there common considerations, techniques and outcomes that all audio programs should embrace? What responsibilities do educators and commercial interests share for the current and future health and quality of the audio industry?

In 1973, the AES Board of Governors took steps to explore these questions by establishing an Education Committee charged with surveying the global state of professional audio education and compiling a directory of educational programs and facilities. This resource has long since migrated online and remains available at

Presented at the 1978 AES Convention in Los Angeles, Trends in Audio Education: A Symposium contained nine monographs that describe an evolving industry with educational challenges and responses to those trends that will seem remarkably familiar to 21st century faculty and students.

The 2013 AES Conference on Audio Education and the 2015 Audio Education Conference (see Events tab below) generated 53 papers on topics that reflect new developments in research methods, certifications, accountability and industrial changes. These are linked under the Elib tab below, organized into four broad categories: Careers and Industry; Listening, Mixing and Perception; Program Overviews; and Discipline-Specific Case Studies and Pedagogy.

We're now pleased to issue a call-for-papers for a 2020 AES Audio Education Conference, due to take place in June 2020, and we encourage faculty and industry leaders to propose papers and workshops.

Bill Crabtree and Michael Fleming

Curators: Bill Crabtree & Michael Fleming

Bill Crabtree is a Professor of Recording Industry and the Director of the Masters of Fine Arts degree in Recording Arts and Technologies at Middle Tennessee State University. Bill works as freelance musician, producer, recording engineer and technical writer. He has engineered and produced a wide scope of studio productions in music recording, sound design, and music composition for many artists and corporate clients. Prior to joining MTSU's Recording Industry faculty, Bill served as an Assistant Professor at Berklee College of Music, Artist in Residence at Emerson College, Assistant Chairman of Audio & Media Technology at New England Institute of Art, and Chairman of Recording Arts at Massachusetts Communications College. Bill teaches courses in multi-track recording and studio production in MTSU's B.S. in Recording Industry and MFA in Recording Arts and Technologies programs.

Michael Fleming is a professor of audio production in the Department of Recording Industry at Middle Tennessee State University, where he teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in audio technology, studio recording and specialized production and post-production techniques, including mastering and critical listening. His professional credits extend from sound editorial and premastering work to producing and engineering recordings and broadcasts for numerous solo artists and ensembles ranging from the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Nashville Opera to singer-songwriter Phil Lee and the composers and performers of the Tennessee-based independent record label Refiners Fire. Prior experience also includes serving as the chief engineer at Appalachian State University's Hayes School of Music and as an associate music producer at WGBH Boston, where he received awards for production excellence from the Massachusetts Broadcasters Association and the National Federation of Community Broadcasters. Michael was an AES Governor (2008-2010) and completed two terms (2011-2015) as Regional Vice-President for the Central USA and Canada.

Audio Education Resources


Color Key

  • AES 50th Murfreesboro, TN
  • UK AES 26th Glasgow, Scotland
  • Other Convention Papers

Career and Industry

Listening, Mixing, Perception

Program Overviews

Discipline Specific Case Studies and Pedagogy

Education Committee

There is no specific AES Technical Committee on curriculum or educational standards. To date, the AES has deliberately avoided becoming involved in the review or accreditation of individual educational programs. However, this de-facto policy does not necessarily preclude a future role for the AES as a consultative body or member society for existing accreditors. Several conference papers describe topical interest and regional or institution-specific involvement with non-profit accrediting boards, e.g.:


Former AES Education Chair Roy Pritts defined the educated audio engineer as a life-long learner, writing that "an educated person is one who knows where to find the answers."

No one can know everything, and it would be a useless effort to spend your life trying to know everything.The dynamics of change in our industry would find the rate of change faster than the rate of learning. The true challenge is to be in touch with the forces of change, evaluate those elements of which you must gain further knowledge, and place the rest just out of reach where you can turn quickly and acquire the necessary information when required. It is the difference between saying "yes" when you know how, saying "yes" then finding out how, or saying "no" and being left behind. (Pritts. The Educated Audio Engineer.)

Here are some additional references, resources and links to help strengthen the work you do, whether you're a teacher, a current student, or simply a life-long learner.

References and Publications

Further Internal and External Resources (for Faculty)

  • Most major colleges and universities have Teaching and Learning Centers that provide workshops on pedagogy and support for course design and effective use of instructional technology. Consider visiting the one that's most convenient to you!

A representative of MTSU's Learning, Teaching and Innovative Technologies Center recommended the following books for our summer reading list:

  • Ambrose, Susan, et al. How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching (2010).
  • Kuh, George, et al. Student Success in College: Creating Conditions That Matter (2010).
  • Keyler, Joshua R. How Humans Learn: The Science and Stories Behind Effective College Teaching (2018).
  • Quaye, Stephen John, ed. Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (2014).
  • Want to share more book recommendations like these along with job openings, news and other academic conversation? The AES provides an email list-serv for faculty and others involved in professional training:
  • Facebook: Audio Educators (closed group)

Further Internal and External Resources for Students and Young Professionals

  • AES Education and Career Resources:

AES Journal Spotlight Interview

This month Francis Rumsey interviews Lauren Ward about her paper in the July/August AES Journal about personalization of broadcasts for the hearing impaired in object-based audio.


Microphones and Recording

Per Sjösten

October 2019

AES - Audio Engineering Society