Blog post

Live events: sharing my passion with students

By Dr Adam Hill - 22 February 2017

How it all started

I was 18 years old when I started working professionally in the live events industry. I had virtually no knowledge of the field and even less experience, aside from the little I picked up from operating tiny sound systems when simultaneously playing in bands. I learned quickly on the job during those first few years. But looking back, I didn’t truly know what I was doing until I began to learn electronics, acoustics and other relevant subjects at university.

How do I teach students advanced theory and make the penny drop?

There’s little point in teaching advanced theory in this area unless I can contextualize it in terms of practical applications. I will enjoy nothing more than sharing some challenging concepts from my research with you as a student and seeing the initial look of panic on your face as the equations come pouring out onto the whiteboard.

Once we head into the lab, however, these complicated ideas are put to work in a practical setting. All of a sudden you will obtain an intuitive grasp of these concepts. The penny dropped. It’s clicked. You will walk away with advanced academic expertise that can be directly applied in industry.

Working with students on real live events – the fun part…

By the time you reach your final year, you know the bulk of the essential theory of live events engineering. At this point, most of your meaningful learning won’t take place in a traditional classroom. This is why we put you into the real-world, providing technical support for actual events ranging from music festivals, to sporting events, to charity dinners and beyond.

I’m simply supervising – you now have the knowledge to professionally carry out the job on your own. Your class will support 20-40 events in your final year and when problems arise, you will learn how to think on your feet. You will identify the issues and use your knowledge of electronics, acoustics, optics and so on to fix them.

This isn’t something than can be taught in a traditional classroom; it must be learned on the job. Aside from the safety net of having lecturers supervising you, these events are no different than many of the events you will work on once employed in the industry.

Employers want our graduates

Work experience comes standard with your university education and this real-world learning is essential, supplementing the academic knowledge gained in the classroom with extremely important practical experience.

It’s no coincidence that our courses regularly achieve 100% graduate employment rates. It’s the careful balance between theory and practical hands-on learning that makes employers come back to us, year on year, asking for more graduates to employ.

Proud of our students

Nothing makes me more proud as an educator than to see my students going off into such excellent and challenging jobs in industry. I have no doubt that many of them by now have greatly surpassed my abilities as a live sound engineer!

Find out more about studying Entertainment Engineering at the University of Derby.

About the author

Adam Hill sitting on some music equipment

Dr Adam Hill
Associate Professor of Electroacoustics

Adam is an Associate Professor of Electroacoustics. He is programme leader on our MSc Audio Engineering. His research focuses on analysis, modelling, and wide-area spatiotemporal control of low-frequency sound reproduction and reinforcement.

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