Fairhaven College has expanded its audio minor facilities with the addition of a new studio on Champion Street in downtown Bellingham.
Beginning in spring 2016, Champion Street Sound Studios’ lease was acquired by Fairhaven College for both Fairhaven College and Western students in the audio technology, music and society minor. This change came alongside the expansion of the audio engineering program with the hope that students will now be more exposed to the program.
“We’re seeing more and more students coming for the audio engineering program.”
Professor Mark Miyake came to the Pacific Northwest from New York to help expand the program and work on acquiring the new studio.
“The studio enhances other programs at Fairhaven College by giving students the chance to utilize this space,” Miyake said.
The original studio now focuses on teaching students to mix recorded tracks.
Roughly two-thirds of the minor are Fairhaven College students, according to Miyake.
Miyake predicts students from around the Northwest will be drawn to Champion Street Sound Studios as Fairhaven College’s recording program begins to expand, particularly because similar programs can be hard to find.
“There are a surprisingly small number of professional audio engineering programs for four-year public colleges of the Pacific Northwest,” Miyake said. “That makes this program attractive.”
He cited University of Washington and University of Oregon as major four-year colleges that don’t have explicit studio recording programs.
Students enrolled in two-year audio recording programs, like the one at Shoreline Community College, are coming to Western to continue their education, Miyake said.
“We’re seeing more and more students coming for the audio engineering program,” Miyake said. “It’s not just a fun, extra thing they discovered after they got here.”
Stuart Jackson, a senior at Fairhaven College, feels positive about the expansion of the program he has worked extensively with.
“The board that we just got is a total treat to work on and is probably one of the most professional pieces of gear I’ve ever used,” Jackson said.
The Champion Street Sound Studios offers students the opportunity to work with recording gear that wasn’t available at Fairhaven College.
“When I stepped in those doors, it was just so overwhelming…”
The new studio is so popular with students, some audio engineers have had difficulty booking studio time. Senior James Goulding said Champion Street Studios is constantly in use.
“Almost 24 hours a day that studio was being used,” Goulding said. “I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like in the spring.”
Despite the backlog, Goulding felt Champion Street has much to offer to students.
“When I stepped in those doors, it was just so overwhelming… I feel like the stakes definitely went up,” Goulding said. “It just feels professional.”
The goal of the program going forward is to get students ready for professional recording studio experiences. The audio program will also offer sound design for theater, film, foley art and work with native language documentation restoration and repatriation, Miyake said.
“We’re already talking with Lummi Nation about those kinds of things,” Miyake said.
Students and professors spent spring quarter and early summer working to get the Champion Studios ready to use.
“It was definitely a lot of work,” Miyake said.
One of the program’s latest expansions, sound design for theater, has already begun its fall quarter course. The course is taught by Elisheva Anisman, a Western student and theatre major with a technical theatre concentrate. Anisman has a Fairhaven College concentration on storytelling and will be finishing her audio minor within the coming quarter.
“I’ve been talking to professors who say that in the future the minor might make Fairhaven College a destination,” Anisman said. “And that could really change how the minor is structured.”