Gilbert, Ariz., Oct. 18, 2016 - When he was five years old, Ike Schultz was taking piano lessons. A few years later he was playing clarinet in a school band. As he progressed, it seemed like he was on track to become a professional musician – but an interest in recording his music and playing with an editing machine led him to the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences where he found another career. Today, Schultz is still involved with music, working as an assistant mix engineer to eight-time Grammy-winning mixer Manny Marroquin.
“Being exposed so young really kept me interested in music as an art form and as a language,” Schultz said. “My parents had me playing music right from the start, and I used to constantly collect records with my father. Those experiences fueled my interest in the art of recording, and the music industry as a whole.
“Listening to all these different records and discovering that they all had very particular sound signatures to them was fascinating. Hearing the sonics – how the sound came from the speakers in such a particular way – it made a lasting impression.”
Schultz’s earliest foray into recording was on a simple tape recorder when he was 12 years old, then he advanced to a very basic Pro Tools rig. A friend let him borrow a pair of microphones, and he had the makings for a small format mixer.
“It was basically used to record the drums and other instruments I played one at a time,” Schultz explained. “Afterwards I’d arrange the multi-tracks together in a variety of ways, and that eventually moved on to editing. It’s what got me interested in the engineering side of music.”
His musical talent earned him a scholarship at the Berklee College of Music, which he attended for a year. He spent two years working as a session musician and putting some time in a studio, where he learned about CRAS from a trade magazine and talking with the engineers.
“I did a lot of research on the CRAS instructors, the students who were successful, and the curriculum, and decided that it was a good place to go to expand my knowledge,” Schultz said. “At CRAS I learned the vocabulary of the engineering side of music. That, to me, was the greatest value I received from attending.
“I try to relate everything to music, because that’s where I’m coming from first and foremost. A vocabulary in any language gives you the options with which you can express yourself, and I find the same thing with engineering. You can be as passionate as you want, but if you don’t have the fundamentals – something like signal flow, which is sort of an alphabet in engineering – it becomes really difficult to move on to construct words and sentences, even novels eventually.”
As a student seeking an internship, Schultz was selected to moderate a forum where one of the speakers was mixing engineer Manny Marroquin, who has been based out of Larrabee Studios in North Hollywood, Calif., for more than a decade. Schultz developed his own list of questions in addition to taking questions from the audience. Marroquin was impressed with the moderator and asked Schultz for his resume when the event was over.
“The timing was just right,” Schultz said. “Shortly after graduation, there was an opening for a third assistant to Manny at Larrabee that generated a lot of interest. I was encouraged to interview and was hired after the process. It turned out that my preliminary period of training served as my internship.”
At Larrabee, Schultz quickly put his education to work and his attitude, diligence, ambition and sense of urgency enabled him to perform his job at a very high level. He was recently promoted to second assistant.
“It was encouraging to walk into one of the top five studios on day one, and understand what was going on,” Schultz continued. “That being said, the internship was still a trial by fire, in the sense that Larrabee operates at a very high level – there’s always a lot to learn with room to evolve. The recording artists and producers who choose to work there are the best in their field, so it’s a high-pressure situation constantly. Music is an extremely fast-paced industry, and it’s also a close-knit one that’s surprisingly small. Besides all of that, it’s primarily skill-based, and more than anything else, it’s your skills that dictate your success.
“Having those fundamentals as rock solid as possible coming out of CRAS is a great foundation to ground yourself with and build off of. The vocabulary really allowed me to grow my skill set at a rapid level at Larrabee.”
Schultz concluded, “This work is definitely a labor of love. It can be very taxing, both on a personal level and a time level, and it can be stressful at times. It can be difficult, but what really inspires me is the material we’re working on and the people we work with, which is at the highest level. The only reason anyone can put up with it is if they grew up with a love of music. I’m in a very lucky and fortunate position to be able to say that.”
The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences is composed of two nearby campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, Ariz. A CRAS education includes broadcast audio, live sound, film and TV audio, music, and video game audio, all taught by award-winning instructors who have all excelled in their individual fields, including sound reinforcement, audio recording and production, digital recording, troubleshooting/maintenance, and music business.
The 11-month program is designed to allow every student access to learn and train in all of the Conservatory’s studios which are comprised with state-of-the-art audio recording and mixing gear, the same equipment used in today’s finest studios and remote broadcast facilities, including Pro Tools 11, API Legacy consoles, SSL AWS consoles, Studer Vista consoles, and much more. All students must complete a 280-hour industry internship to graduate from the Master Recording Program II that may ultimately lead to industry employment.