Berklee Students Visit Abbey Road

By
Mike Keefe-Feldman
August 2, 2013
Students strike Beatles album cover pose at Abbey Road.
Berklee MP&E students and faculty at Abbey Road
Berklee MP&E students and faculty at Abbey Road

Last week, nine Berklee senior Music Production & Engineering (MP&E) students traveled to London with MP&E faculty to visit recording studios Abbey Road and British Grove. The former is best known for recording the Beatles’ Abbey Road album, and the latter was built and is owned by Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits fame. The students spent intensive 12-hour days at the two studios. At Abbey Road, they observed producer David Hentschel work with the band Seasfire. Hentschel’s production credits include work with George Harrison, Elton John, Frank Zappa, Genesis, and Queen, among many others.

At British Grove, the students participated in helping producer Hugh Padgham record new artist Lydia Baylis. Padgham’s prior work includes records with Sting, Phil Collins, the Police, XTC, and Peter Gabriel, to name a few.

One of the Berklee seniors on the trip was Annette Oduor, who is from Kenya and who plans to finish her degree later this year. Oduor is interested in pursing a career in concert production and record production, and she has already produced a showcase of African music at Berklee.

“This experience was very helpful,” Oduor says of the studio time in London. “There were some things we’d never seen, being in these huge studios and working with legends who have a very extensive portfolio and who have achieved a lot. At the same time, they also reinforced a lot of what we learned in the first year of MP&E.”

Oduor adds that it was also very useful to see the different ways in which Hentschel and Padgham approached working with artists. MP&E chair Rob Jaczko accompanied the students in London, as did assistant chair Dan Thompson and associate professor Leanne Ungar. Jaczko says that, to be selected, students had to be seniors studying at Berklee part-time over the summer with a grade point average of 3.8 or better and be nominated by faculty.

In addition to providing a one-of-a-kind learning experience for students, the trip was a way for MP&E to pay respect to the British recording scene. “Abbey Road, which was known as EMI Studios back in the day, was ground zero for a lot of the techniques that we now traffic in every day,” Jaczko says.

The trip was made possible thanks to the endowment left to Berklee’s MP&E program by Wayne Wadhams, who spearheaded the effort to create the program under the leadership of former Berklee President Lee Eliot Berk in 1983.

“The trip was very much in the ambitious spirit of what Wayne Wadhams was all about, both artistically and otherwise,” Jaczko says.

Jaczko adds that, after this inaugural test run, the idea is to select a group of Wayne Wadham production scholars each year in order to make this trip an annual MP&E event that will serve as a motivating factor and reward for those MP&E students who are extraordinarily “collaborative, inquisitive, highly motivated, and good citizens of the department.”