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Journal of the Music & Entertainment Industry Educators Association

Volume 6, Number 1 (2006)

Teaching with Pro Tools? Proceed With Caution! The Development of Mental Models for Recording Engineering Instruction

Barry R. Hill
Lebanon Valley College


Recording technology has evolved markedly in recent years, and educational institutions offering degrees in audio engineering face the task of bridging the knowledge gap between analog and digital systems. Analog recording systems, the prevailing technology for much longer than their digital counterparts, have historically possessed a consistency in design and function. This consistency has enabled professional recording engineers to establish a universal understanding of how these systems work, and to apply that understanding across similar analog systems. Digital recording systems, like Pro Tools, were designed to emulate many of the features of their analog predecessors, making many tasks easily accomplishable with less equipment. Experienced recording engineers tend to more easily apply concepts like signal flow and routing to digital systems thanks to their hands-on experience with analog systems. Audio engineering students often have a problem doing the same, because digital systems lack a physical corollary to the processes they execute virtually. To explain this discrepancy, the author points to a fundamental difference in how each group constructs mental models relative to recording systems. His study seeks to identify elements present in the professionals’ mental models that are missing in those of the students; helping instructors design curriculum that provides a more robust understanding of recording systems in general.

Keywords: analog recording, audio engineering, digital recording, music education, Pro Tools

Hill, Barry R. “Teaching with Pro Tools? Proceed With Caution! The Development of Mental Models for Recording Engineering Instruction.” Journal of the Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association 6, no. 1 (2006): 29-58. https://doi.org/10.25101/6.2

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