Two men with a combined eight decades of music-industry experience have conceived of a new educational venture that complements St. Pete College’s Music Industry/Recording Arts program while serving those who prefer to forego the trappings of academia altogether in favor of traditional vocational training: Big Noise Institute.
Next weekend at the 2015 National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) Show, Mark Matthews — the former director of MIRA — and businesss partner Robin Sibucao (a one-time MIRA chair and vet industry professional) will announce BNI's official launch.
“We weren’t expecting it to progress as quickly as it did,” Sibucao said in a recent interview with CL.
The idea for an institution that expanded upon and continued what MIRA offered — a unique real-world approach to technology training — was conceived at last year’s NAMM show, fueled as much by the overarching enthusiasm everyone at NAMM seemed to have for the MIRA program as by the men’s experience as active musicians who ended up channeling their talents into behind-the-scenes industry jobs.
“I’m a perfect example of what Big Noise is about,” Sibucao explained. “I thought I’d be a guitar player my entire life, I ended up running the Bose Corporation sales department up in Framingham [Mass.], then I opened a company out in Seattle that did all of Starbucks’ music and sound systems.”
Both quit their day jobs last spring and started hashing out ideas for Big Noise Institute, putting together a business plan and potential curriculum over the summer and procuring funding, sponsorships and partnerships through fall and winter. Matthews had designed the MIRA program — “He wrote it, he lived it, he breathed it, for six years,” Sibucao explained — and BNI puts to use the music technology curriculum, experiential learning practices and cross-discipline framework he established there.
In sum, every field (live performance, broadcast, recording, video) overlaps, and students must work together to manage and complete projects while learning how to use the required technology, emphasizing the importance of building connections within the industry amid intensive technological training.
BNI differs from MIRA in that it’s free of academic course requirements and restrictions; offers courses online as well as in the classroom; gives students opportunities for continued education on new technology and trends in their chosen career paths; and provides direct industry connections to music professionals along with access to manufacturers, live sound companies, theaters, studios, concert venues and broadcast facilities. BNI students can move at their own pace, taking stand-alone courses or signing up for full two-year semester-by-semester course curricula.
Courses cover such subjects as audio production and studio equipment fundamentals; virtual instruments and midi programming; live performance, cabling and console basics. Matthews and Sibucao have established partnerships with some impressive companies to facilitate the learning, among them Monster House in Burbank, Calif., which has a production facility and a stable of musicians available for education and workshopping purposes; music gear staple Dean Guitars; and international equipment leader TC Electronic, which makes pretty much everything from studio monitors to bass amps.
“They’ve sent us a whole bunch of equipment in advance of us opening, so our students can learn on what’s out there right now, and TC will be updating that equipment throughout our relationship, make sure we have the first-run latest stuff,” said Sibucao. “That’s the key to this type of education.”
BNI also plans to partner with local educational institutions to design technical outreach programs and courses, like one being worked on for students attending the creative arts-driven ACT conservatory in Midtown.
Next weekend’s NAMM Show will also serve as a platform to reveal BNI’s latest and most significant partnership, which will make it the technology-education provider for Fender Music Foundation.
“That’ll mean workshops, artists and engineers coming to town to help launch Big Noise and also promote Fender Music Foundation.”
Even though BNI doesn’t have a physical home as yet — parking issues with the original location prompted them to seek a new one — Sibucao estimates the institute will be open in 30 days, with online courses starting in 60.
“The studio equipment is procured, video equipment is procured — we just need a room to stick it in.”
Find out more about Big Noise Institute at bignoiseinstitute.org. Courses examine everything from studio fundamentals to live performance.