MCTS Santa Barbara-Music Tech For Music Educators

Music Production Rules!
Professional Development. A masterclass for educators in Recording, Music Tech and Audio Engineering

Alan Parsons Date: July 25th, 2019
Country: USA
Venue: ParSonics Studios
Event: MCTS Level 1
Leaders: Alan Parsons / Julian Colbeck
Engineer: Noah Bruskin
Event Manager: Terry Shields
Event Producer: Julian Colbeck


The first class in our inaugural series of master classes was held at Alan Parson's state-of-the-art studio in Santa Barbara and was designed especially for Music Educators. The session was sold out and attended by an excellent mix of teachers from around the world; from private instructors to high school, community college and university professors.

This full day of Professional Development combined invaluable insights into teaching music production, with approaches, lesson plans, projects and more, plus a hands-on module where Alan showed best practices when it comes to the simultaneous recording of acoustic guitar and vocal.

The day was divided into a number of individual sessions on specific aspects of teaching music production. Presenters included Grammy winner Tom Brooks, ASSR co-founder, musician and author Julian Colbeck, and former Apple Distinguished Educator Jamie Knight.

Two additional master classes were also held at ParSonics on 26th and 27th of July, one a mix session, the other a full recording session, with many teachers attending the full compliment of classes.

Full Report

The opening day of our inaugural series of master classes at ParSonics, began with a look at the pedagogy (theory, methods and practice of an educational program and a favorite 'insiders' word) of ASSR; our special sauce of video that students can view at their own pace an possible own place, music files so students can put learning into practice, written material, and 24 freshly minted lesson plans to guide both students and instructors through the course. ASSR CEO Julian Colbeck and education maestro Jamie Knight whizzed attendees through a PowerPoint that looked at how to re-create the sort of apprenticeship approaches that big studios used when Alan Parsons first joined Abbey Road. Alan, in attendance throughout, shared valuable insights into the learning process as it was for 19 year olds back in the 1970s.

Jamie concluded the session with explanations of how he built the acclaimed music program at Huntington Beach High School from scratch through CTE / Perkins funding.

Jamie Knight's passion was matched stride for stride by Tom Brooks, a Grammy-winning composer and producer in his own right but also Alan Parsons' musical director and an educator. Brooks' session on how to inspire your students inspired the teachers, encouraging them to 'tell your own story.'

As the morning session continued, instructors, who had come from all over the US and Canada, were given a detailed run through of two ASSR lesson plans (History Of Recording and Studio Acoustics) plus an analysis of current DAW options. Attendees seemed particularly impressed by engineer Noah Bruskin's showcase of Ableton Live (Alan was actually heard saying 'I think I'm going to give this a go') and also the online platform Soundtrap, demonstrated by Terry Shields.

After a fortifying lunch of lasagna and California garden salad Alan took over the reins with a session on best practices of recording acoustic guitar with vocal - a staple recording task, especially in an educational environment. Huntington Beach High School Junior Olivia Ooms provided the talent, and did she! The sixteen year old country / pop artist, wowed attendees with her talent (superb pitching and solid guitar playing) and nerve as she performed and recorded her own composition It's Not You to the live audience. Capping off this impressive display Olivia then offered to record it again on piano! Alan demonstrated his preferred method of recording an upright piano: 'two condensers down the back' would be the abbreviated version.

Two further afternoon sessions looked at Session Files, and how these have been incorporated into the new Music Production Curriculum, and Certification - an increasingly widely demanded aspect of music production courses all over the world.

Check out more pictures and videos on Instagram at AlanParsons.ASSR.

The Sessions

Session 1 Journey Not Destination A look at the pedagogy of ASSR, and realistic goals and expectations for your students.
Presenters: Julian Colbeck and Jamie Knight
Session 2 Inspiration How to ignite the passion. Grammy winner Tom Brooks shares his story and talks about how to turn tour own musical journey into something to inspire your students.
Presenters: Tom Brooks and Julian Colbeck
Session 3 Make The Most Out Of Your Contacts / Finding The Funding.
Presenter: Grammy winning educator Beth Hollenbeck (video)
Session 4 In The Beginning There Was Perfect Sound Showcasing approaches to teaching Lesson Plans 1 & 2 from ASSR Music Production Curriculum.
Presenter: Julian Colbeck
Session 5 Are All DAWs Made Equal? What are the best choices in 2019 and does it really matter?
Presenters: Noah Bruskin, Julian Colbeck, Terry Shields
Session 6 Recording Acoustic Guitar With Vocal Alan Parsons personally sets up a live session from the ASSR video series.
Presenter: Alan Parsons (2 hours)
Session 7 Hands-on Lesson Plan - Microphones.
Presenter: Julian Colbeck
Session 8 Certification Solutions to the need for industry certification.
Presenter: Jamie Knight
Session 9 Show Me The Results How do students go on to find jobs in the industry?
Presenter: Tom Brooks
Q&A with industry panel led by Alan Parsons with Julian Colbeck, Tom Brooks, Jamie Knight, Terry Shields and Noah Bruskin (60 mins)

The Venue

ParSonics studio is situated on Alan Parsons' at his Tres Vientos Ranch in the hills above Santa Barbara. This state-of-the-art facility has a 32-channel Neve 5088 analog console, 5.1 monitoring through B&W 802 Diamond Loudspesakers and a selection of microphones collected by Alan over his 40+ year long career such as his Neumann U47 FET (Field-Effect Transistor) and British Coles 4038 ribbon mics as well as interesting newer items like the Neve RNR1 ribbon mic, personally given to Alan by Rupert Neve. Talk about bragging rights!

The control room looks through to a generous sized tracking room with adjoining iso booths.

The facility has its own luxurious green room and catering area; a spacious patio area overlooks the Pacific Ocean and can accommodate both dining and outside seminars.

ParSonics was completed in 2018 and was used in the recording of Alan Parsons' most recent album The Secret, released on the Frontiers label May 2019.

The Artist

Alan Parsons was trained at Abbey Road Studios in London, working under the direction of Beatles engineer Geoff Emerick and Beatles producer George Martin. After working with The Beatles on Let It Be and Abbey Road Alan started working as a full-fledged engineer with Paul McCartney, Wings, George Harrison, and countless other artists who came to Abbey Road studios.

In 1972 Alan became the sole engineer working with Pink Floyd on Dark Side Of The Moon, a record which would go on to sell more than 45m copies.

Alan went on to become one of the most successful producers of the 1970s and 1980s, producing a string of hits with artists such as Pilot, Al Stewart, Ambrosia, Cockney Rebel, John Miles and of course The Alan Parsons Project, a concept created by himself and Eric Woolfson.

Post 'Project' Alan Parsons has continued to work as an independent producer with such artists as Jake Shimabukuro, Steven Wilson and Yes. Alan runs a highly successful touring band (The Alan Parsons Live Project).

In 2019 Alan won a Grammy for best immersive album for the re-mastered 35th Anniversary Edition of his hit album Eye In The Sky and also released his fifth solo album The Secret, much of which was recorded at ParSonics Studio.

Alan will be recording emerging country/pop artist Olivia Ooms for the 'recording acoustic guitar with vocal' session. Although Olivia is still at high school she is already an accomplished and experienced performer with a growing fanbase. This summer Olivia has been in Nashville as part of CMT’s Artist Discovery Program.


Thursday July 25th 2019

  • 09.30–10.00 Welcome, Registration. Coffee and pastries.
  • 10.00–10.30 Session 1
  • 10.30–11.00 Session 2
  • 11.00–11.45 Session 3
  • 12.00–1.00 Session 4
  • 1.00-2.00 Lunch on the patio with Alan Parsons and other presenters.
  • 2.00–3.00 Session 5 / 6
  • 3.00–3.45 Session 7
  • 4.00–6.30 Session 8 Recording Acoustic Guitar with Vocal - A hands-on session with Alan Parsons
  • 6.45–7.45Q&A with light refreshments served
  • All enquiries to or to KEYFAX NewMedia on 1-800-752-2780