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As it happens, I was due to take my son to a gig at a local open-air venue, where the sound was being provided by a local sound company, P&L, with mixing desks being provided by Liverpool's Adlib.These two companies in many ways represent the extremes of the sound rental business: P&L operate a small family-run lighting, sound and disco equipment business on the East coast, while Adlib are now a major company in the touring and installation market, employing over 80 people at their base in Speke, near Liverpool.
For many of my contemporaries, this is a familiar route: playing in a band, hanging around the local sound company or music venue, helping out and gradually getting more and more involved. I decided to ask around for a few opinions, and to find out how best to get that important first break.I first asked the educators how they prepared their students for future employment.All had a slightly different slant that was in some ways reflective of the area of teaching they were involved.The school I was in purchased a PA system, and that was generally left with myself and some other students to operate for the various ambitious theatre or panto shows they put on each year.” So how did working at Adlib help?"I was able to learn from many of the engineers at the time.For a student perspective, I took advantage of bumping into Richy Nicholson, who was looking after things for Adlib, and local lad Mike Hanson, who has recently graduated and, after much searching, has just found his first job in audio.
This is only a small-cross section of the industry, but I was keen to poll them all for their thoughts.
She also runs a company called Soul Sound, a sound-engineer agency through which events organisers can hire engineers, and which helps young engineers gain employment and advance their careers.
To balance the North/South divide, I also spoke to David Anderson, whom I first met at Newcastle college and who now teaches in Gateshead.
We at Adlib have managed, over a period of years, to convince the colleges that we were the specialists in the creative field, and to please leave us to teach that” But is there an educational route that he would recommend?
"We firmly believe that a day release course as an electrical engineer provides a far better foundation for any sound engineer and lighting designer, and it also provides two choices in life.
I have to agree: I now wish I had spent more time studying acoustics and physics, which now occupy more of my time than I would ever have considered when I was at school.