It’s been over ten years since I first visited Serbia to teach. That had been a milestone event, the first time I had been invited to run a course. Accompanied by my colleague, Joe Campbell (Prodigy, Adele, Chris Rea), we had flown to Novi Sad, Serbia’s second city, to hold a masterclass for local company Studio Berar.
Last week I made a similar journey, but this time to Serbia's capital, Belgrade. My hosts were SAE Creative Media Institute, and I had no Joe with me to bolster my confidence. I have, however, become a lot more experienced at presenting these type of sessions.
The Belgrade branch of SAE is situated right in the centre of the old town, just off one of the main shopping streets. It is a small but well equipped school, and the first days teaching took place in the ‘mac-suite' lecture room. It was good to start here, It can be a bit overwhelming for everyone at first. The more familiar surroundings of a classroom help gets everyone at ease and gave me a chance to get to know the students. The attendees were mostly SAE students taking the degree module, or professionals working in the business already. I always get nervous when I lecture people who are already working, but all were happy to learn and often contributed by sharing their own knowledge.
In a three-day class like this it is difficult to know what to cover. It is impossible to embrace everything, so what do you leave out? My aim is always to make students think, to teach them to listen, to question and to make informed decisions based on what they hear. How do you do that? Well put on a gig is a good way to work through the processes. I didn’t want to do that; but working up to, and completing, a soundcheck is a good start.
After a good day in the classroom I stepped out with Filip and Bojan who are lecturers on the SAE audio course. Over a beer Filip pointed out that he had actually attended my first course in Novi Sad. I hadn’t recognised him but had the excuse that is had been a long tome ago!
The second and third days were spent in 'Dom Kulture Studentski Grad’ a small 500 cap theatre in Belgrade. Here we set up speakers, listened to them, moved them, listened to them again. We compared boxes and boxes of microphones, listening to each, comparing, contrasting. With the help of local band “Popstar” we completed a long drawn out but very thorough soundcheck. And through it all the students were attentive, questioning and engaged! It was a fantastic week and I have to thank Bojan Rajacic for asking me.
We had initially worked together at a Croatian Festival, Umag, and he had returned to SAE and convinced his boss Olivera Lazarevic to make the event happen. I’m not sure where my next trip abroad will take me, but I am sure it will be just as enriching as this trip has been.
In the meantime I am planning some short one day courses at my studio in Sheffield. There are also plans for a summer course which we will be announcing soon.
If you are interested in Soulsound organising a masterclass in your country please let us know. Our aim is to spread knowledge and this is certainly a great way to do it, so do drop us a mail.
Many thanks to Mirjana Mitrovic Photography for the photo.