Monday, September 16, 2013

VPA Student Spotlight: Jonah Mueller

1.  Why did you choose to major in Sound Design at Tech?

I love to compose music, and I'd say I got serious with it around 13.  Mostly it started with solo piano pieces, then branching out to guitar-orientated rock songs when I got my first electric guitar at 14. Naturally I wanted a method of preserving the sounds and songs I came up with, so I got an M-Audio FastTrack USB that came with Session, a multi-track digital audio program.  I was then able to get a full realization of what I was hearing in my head with many instruments.  I also soon realized that I loved the recording and mixing process as much as I love composing. So when the question "What do you want to do in college?" came up, I would say I want to be in the studio and become a skilled audio engineer. There aren't many schools with the degree in audio engineering, or the like, around where I live in Rochester, Minnesota, and I didn't want to go too far.  I found Michigan Tech by accident and noticed there was a Sound Design program. It seems a bit far away, but I saw and heard great things from Michigan Tech. So I applied, and, well, here I am!

2.  What has been your favorite part of working in Sound Design?

I remember using one of the computers in the music lab and having an instant jolt of excitement from all of the software and plugins that were at my fingertips. A lot of the stuff is really expensive, so it was fantastic to be able to utilize them all for project for class as well as projects at my own. I felt as though my creativity increased immensely with all of the options.
Another thing would be that I got involved with live and theatre setup, something I wouldn't normally do. I like that the program pushes me in all directions so I can see all the aspects and applications of sound design.

3.  What is the most important thing you have learned in your major?

In one class, I greatly improved my mixing and mastering abilities as it was basically a  "mixing bootcamp".  Every time we went over a new aspect of mixing, I went back to my previous personal projects and fixed them accordingly.  The improvement was amazing for all of my projects; they feel more legitimate, something I could actually use for a portfolio.  And from here on out, everything I do in Sound Design will have the foundation of everything I learned in this class.

4.  What inspires you?

The faculty.  Without them, I wouldn't be where I am right now, feeling confident in what I want to pursue.  Chris Plummer is a very knowledgeable teacher that I have learned a lot from in terms of sound design, not only from his lectures, but from his dedication to everything "sound".  Jared Anderson was my Music Theory I and II professor and my conductor for Concert Choir and currently my Chamber Choir conductor.  He is a brilliant man that I come to for any sort of composition troubles.  Libby Meyer, a composer herself, is someone I have also looked up to and hope to learn a lot from this year in Music Composition.  Really, everyone in the Visual Performing Arts Department, including the students, inspire me because of their honest enthusiasm of what they do.

5.  What are your goals after graduation?

At this point, I want to pursue a career in either film or video game scoring/composing/sound design. I am also interested in programming, so perhaps a career that is DSP, or digital signal processing, related.

6.  What advice would you give others hoping to major in Sound Design?
You can't go very far in this major if you don't love music or don't have intuition for creating.  And for those beginning to compose and create and for music in general: create to contribute, not to compete. It's all about the music.