Total Production


10 March 2008

ADLIB Audio has completed its first School Tutorial Event of 2008, and is once again putting its money where its mouth is in terms of live sound and lighting education and the opportunities available for pre-university students.

ADLIB’s Andy Dockerty is one of the most vociferous critics of the current ‘academic’ options available for those wanting a career in live sound.

Learning “Live” Sound

“The way to learn how to become a live sound engineer and system technician is to actually be involved in the environment.” He says, stressing that his opinions solely relate to the “LIVE” element of our industry and does not refer to the courses that definitely do assist with studio and music production.

“Many young people are pushed into ‘live audio’ and ‘technical’ courses by career advisors at schools. Whist sounding superficially exciting, these courses are obviously bringing in funds to educational establishments, but “live” production cannot be taught in a classroom or a one space environment.

“You need to be able to anticipate venue-to-venue problems and nuances and experience true working days – including load in ins and outs before you leave college”.


Dockerty adds that apart from highlighting technical issues, the ADLIB Schools Events are realistic about the fact it’s not an especially glamorous career at the outset, and encourages the development of “live” engineering and production skills through a hands-on apprenticeship.

ADLIB has an active apprenticeship scheme in place for young people wanting to get started, and past Schools Events have proved a fertile recruiting ground. “The key is getting them before they go to university or get embroiled in courses which will teach them bad practices, waste their time and inhibit their careers,” says Dockerty, as usual, pulling no punches!

ADLIB’s Schools Events

With this in mind, three or four times a year, ADLIB visits  local schools, takes in a complete sound and lighting rig - totally free of charge - and sets up and produces a gig with interested pupils. The idea is to stimulate them into getting involved in sound, lighting and technical production as a career …. with a proper understanding of what they are getting into.  

The latest ADLIB School Event was at Gateacre Comprehensive in Liverpool. Working with 30 students, many of them from Music Tech courses, they staged a show starring 7 artists in the school hall that sold 400 tickets – 6 school bands followed by headliners and local indie heroes, The Aeroplanes.

Each band had a complete sound check, a rolling riser system was used for the gig and main band to illustrate how this works in festival situations. Everything was spiked and marked up between bands and delivered as a proper show.

The sound rig used was a Nexo Alpha system with a Soundcraft Series 5 console at front of house. Dockerty baby-sat and lectured on FOH and ADLIB engineer Steve Cole delivered his knowledge of monitor world via an SM20 console.

Doing The Gig

The students were involved in the whole process of doing a gig including real basics like helping  unload and load the truck at the start and end of the day.

 From this point, ADLIB offer work placements to the schools for all their interested pupils.

ADLIB lighting was also involved. Pete Abraham co-ordinated and supplied rigging and lighting kit including the latest PixelLine LED technology, Martin MAC 700 moving lights and an Avolites Pearl Expert console.

“It’s a completely professional set up,” explains Dockerty. Everyone who wanted to could try their hand at mixing the schools bands, while Dockerty, Cole & Abraham showed them the ropes by engineering The Aeroplanes.

ADLIB Apprenticeship Scheme

The same event last year saw two young people from the school joining ADLIB’s apprenticeship scheme. Already, following this year’s visit to Gateacre, they had 4 students on work placement at the last half term, one of whom will be offered an ADLIB apprenticeship.

“This is part of ADLIB’s real commitment to encouraging new generations of people into the industry – and it’s bringing some very rewarding results. On a pleasurable note, a schools  focus always tends to be on the performer so it is nice to be able to show the real industry to the behind the scenes students who want to be part of our profession,” concludes Dockerty, adding that what really upsets him is not just that individuals come out of university courses 2 or 3 years behind in their ‘live’ education, but they are still not in a position to be self sufficient and earn a reasonable living …. which can come as a real shock to most parents!


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