A Day in the Life: A DMI student
by Courtney Warren
Mar 01, 2014 | 3377 views | 0 0 comments | 65 65 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Students worked in Studio B to record sounds to accompany a video assigned to them. To create the sound of man walking through town, students crossed the floor and recorded heavy footfalls.
Students worked in Studio B to record sounds to accompany a video assigned to them. To create the sound of man walking through town, students crossed the floor and recorded heavy footfalls.
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It's like something straight out of a movie. They are normal Delta State students. They have classes, deadlines and final grades just like everyone else — until they step into the Delta Music Institute. It's here they become rock stars. Tucked away on the back of the DSU campus behind the gym, the DMI has changed the lives of students and has made a loud, musical footprint on the Mississippi Delta and Delta State's campus.

Recording Theory II class begins right after lunch and before students start to pile into Studio A, Charles Ross sits at the organ placed in the center of the studio with an iPod and runs his fingers up and down the keys, creating a sound similar to the beats of the song that thump out of the device. The organ is not set on the traditional sound and instead creates a futuristic tune as Ross bobs his head up and down creating something completely his own.

Ross is a senior DMI student, majoring in audio engineering and originally from Indianola.

Ross began his day working with the Fighting Okra Records label. The label has recently created an EP for their artist of the year Justin Boatman and now that the product is finished, Ross met with the other members of the label to make sure things were going smoothly.

"I'm working with sales and promotion and the product is finished so we're about to get it pressed and patched up. I met with the label and made sure we were on task," he explained, as he stepped down from the organ and began to wrap chords up.

Other students were beginning to trickle in through the far door and the professor, Miles Fulwider, stopped them for a moment.

"We’re going to get all of this cleaned up and moved back to Studio B. All of this equipment will go in there and then we will head on in and talk about some new assignments and about the choir visit yesterday. So let's start striking this," said Fulwider before leaving the studio to go along several doors.

Ross moved to another set of chords and began to wrap them up.

"We recorded a high school choir yesterday from Clarksdale. It was fun — we had a lot of fun doing it," he explained.

The choir had come from Clarksdale for a competition and used their free hours to spend time recording at the DMI. The class worked together to learn how to record a large group and the recording process in general.

"I have different roles I can do and since we're in a class we rotate around. We have software to record the kids with and other guys are watching the mixing console to mainly make sure everything is running smoothly. Also, that the choir and conductor is as comfortable as possible," explained Ross.

As he moved to different instruments and assisted others in cleaning up he explained that he is also a member of the DMI All-Stars and loves the DMI program at Delta State because of all that it has to offer.

Now that the band is familiar with one another, practicing every single day isn’t necessary. Playing around on instruments or mixing consoles is like breathing to these students — second nature and something that, at a lot of times, just comes naturally.

"When we meet up it's quick run-throughs and brushing up on small things. Everyone is a great musician and experienced. It's something extra but not too hectic. It's a lot of fun and like recess from school," explained Ross.

He glanced off to watch a group of students roll other instruments out of the studio and carry several more chords away and then went back to explaining why he enjoys the program.

"It's the best recording school where you can get hands-on learning. It's not too crowded and you can have that extra time. The instructors don't mind coming up here extra hours and even on weekends to work with you.

“You get to meet a lot of different people in the industry and the field that you want to do. With the new Grammy museum coming there are going to be a lot more opportunities," he said.

Ross stopped talking for a moment and turned his attention to another senior, Curtis Nunnery, who was explaining to the other students that he would be working on his final project later in the evening and would love for some of them to stop by and check it out.

Nunnery is a senior and a music industry studies major, originally from McComb. He's actually not even in this class.

"I've already taken this class but this is a new teacher and I wanted to see what it was like," he smiled as he moved equipment from one studio to the other.

Nunnery's final project is to create a four song DVD of drummers with no accompaniment.

Once the equipment was moved into Studio B, Nunnery stood by the piano and explained his project while the final, larger instruments were put back where they belonged.

The first song will have two drummers performing a duet with no accompaniment.

As the students moved equipment around and listened to him talk about his recording for this evening, Nunnary explained, "I am a drummer and I love drums. If I could do it for the rest of my life I would just mix and edit drums. I've seen videos on YouTube of drum duets so I figured that would be something cool to do."

Nunnary has to have a finished product by April 30 so he can graduate in May so he is excited to get these drummers in the studio to work.

He turned to his classmates and said, "If you come out you'll be impressed. They're amazing."

The other students gave him support, either laughing and teasing or telling him that they would be there.

Once the equipment was set up and the students had settled into a room, Fulwider began class.

While the class benefited from recording the choir, there were several hiccups during the session that Fulwider wanted to review.

"What were some things you observed in yesterday's session? What are some steps we could take to be more prepared?" While Fulwider led a discussion about the importance of getting to the studio early to be ready for a client and how different processing can change a sound completely, the students took notes and added to the discussion.

The lights aren't on in the studio and while students take notes and listen to the music played back to them after changes are made, the sunlight streams in through the upper windows, making the overhead lights unnecessary.

The television on the left side of the room shows what Fulwider is doing on the computer, giving the students a better visual.

He assures the students that, while things did not go smoothly for them with the choir and there will always be those days, other days will be much better and full of creativity.

"Some of the best ways to learn are to be thrown into the deep end. We may have just had one of those days. This is a performance for us too. Some days you're super creative and other days it's a struggle just to stay in the room and get it done," he said.

Time ran out quickly and the students rushed off to other classes, back home, to the dorm, or to work on individual projects, while the sound design class took over studio b.

The class was much smaller and the teacher was out of town, however the students got together to work on a project.

"What we're doing it finding sounds to go with a video. There's a video of a man walking and opening a bottle of ginger ale so we have to record the sounds to go with what's happening," explained Harrison Downs.

Downs is a music industry studies senior originally of Huntsville.

Rushing into class fresh from a work out, she greets her classmates with a smile, pushes her hair back, and gets ready to work on the project.

The group watches the video several times and while they do so they call out different sounds they will need.

"A chain."

"A paper bag."

"Ambience for the background."

"A gate."

"Why is he even doing that?"

The group laughs and then separates to go find different items that will be necessary for the project.

Forty-five minutes later they are still in the studio with one of the students walking back and forth across the floor in an attempt to get the sound of footsteps just right.

While the group continues to work, other students work in Studio A, some sit in the lobby and joke about Hootie and the Blowfish, and others watch the workers on the second floor repair the damage that was caused during a flood last semester.

While other students attend composition classes and freshman math classes, these rock stars continue to be rock stars, proud to be heard and excited about their music, all while tucked in-between the library and the gym, yet another jewel on Delta State's campus.