Sending Off My Students…

Yesterday evening, I participated in the commencement ceremonies at CSU Dominguez Hills. For many years, I didn’t attend…and I really don’t know why. I guess I was lazy or believed I had more important things to do. Well, I was wrong. The students that graduated from the Digital Media Arts – Recording Arts area yesterday…and all of the previous years…deserved to be congratulated in person and even hugged. I’m very proud of all of them because I know how much effort it takes to complete the program…especially the classes that I teach. But this group succeeded. In fact, twelve of them received an “A” in my beginning recording course! That’s never happened before.

This is a very diverse group. Richard came back to school to pursue his dream and a career change and always delivered quality work, Deniz (a native of Turkey) came to my office more than most and was beaming with pride as he walked across the platform and met the university president, and rock star David stood up as the summa cum laude students were recognized. And the ladies…more than I’ve ever had before (about 25% of the class)…proved that women are just as capable as the men in a profession that is dominated by the guys. Congrats to Jackie (I’m so glad your father showed up!), Grissel, Jennifer, Mandy, Tonya, Monica, Norma, Christyanna, and the rest…you ladies rock! Good luck as you begin your careers.


I met proud parents, siblings, children, spouses, and friends. Lots of photos were taken. This was probably the last time that I will see or hear from most of the graduates. I wish that more would keep in touch and let me know how they’re proceeding through their careers and lives. It seems like it was only a few years ago that I was one of the students…time really does fly by. Monica shared that she’s getting married in June and planning on staying around Dominguez Hills to get her Master’s degree. She always did excellent work and kept a smile on her face no matter what the challenges were…and she loves dogs!

One of the best students told me that I was the “hardest” professor he’d ever had…but he added, “it was a challenge but worth it”. And he thanked me. Several others told me how much they appreciated the rigor and demands. A few said I was their favorite teacher. It was a great event full of excitement and some touching speeches including one by special CSU honoree Forest Whitaker, the Academy Award winning actor. He grew up right across the street from the university and spent countless hours wandering around the fields with his dog. I managed to shake his hand as he left the ceremonies…pretty cool.

And I’m certain that there are more than a few students that are just glad that it’s all over…and in particular they’re glad to be done with me. The class of 2015 is the final group that will have taken both of my audio recording courses…introduction to audio and advanced audio recording. The current cohort of juniors had a choice for the first time last fall. The majority signed up for my Tuesday evening beginning audio class. However, at the semester break about 10 decided to abandon the rigors of Tuesday night session and opt for the alternative class taught by a part time member of the faculty (a former student). They chose a different path through the program…and I’m disappointed that I won’t have the chance to prepare them for the future.

I’m a staunch believer in learning the theory, fundamentals, and concepts about the audio engineering profession. It’s not just about sitting in a dark room with rock stars. The first semester is all about signal flow. If audio students don’t understand the necessity of knowing how analog, digital, and control signals get routed between various pieces of equipment, there’s no hope for them in the studio sitting behind a complex mixing console. Audio engineering is not about learning which colored buttons to push or any individual piece of equipment. It’s knowing about acoustics, microphones, analog and digital audio, signal processors, and how to create the sounds that that the artist and producer want to hear.

Congratulations to all of the 2015 CSUDH DMA graduates!

10 thoughts on “Sending Off My Students…

  • LOved it, good positive post about young people gaining something worthwhile from a grouchy gowned one!

      • Mark:

        At last! A positive post.

        I choose to read your blog everyday because now and again there are some “nuggets” to be mined but anecdotally, I would say that 70% of the posts have a negative tone, usually based around the following subjects:
        So-called “snake oil” products
        High sampling rates
        Loudness wars
        The audio press etc.

        Whether you are right or wrong about the above is not really my issue but you may want to think about moving the polemic in a different direction as your long term readers are very much aware of your positions on various subjects. After all we are talking about the pleasure of listening to music, not trying to solve world hunger, cure cancer or discovering cold fusion.

        The subject of provenance is a great example of one of your “nuggets.” So keep up the great work Mark but as I have stated before, there is fine line between educating and being an agent provocateur.

        The next time I see you walking your dog I will say “Hello!”……


        • Victor, I’m not all doom and gloom…however, I do report on what I see that’s happening in the world of high-resolution audio.

  • Congrats to the grads. My son graduated from college yesterday as well as a Chem major. We are 2 proud parents. Number 2, a vocal and piano major, it only 2 years away!

    • Congrats to you as well!

  • I was trying to be diplomatic Mark. I know you care greatly about what you write as you teach it too which gives what ever you write authority. I do enjoy keeping abreast of everything so called ‘hires’ and your posts are always informative and well written. It does however come across as attacking on many people in the music business and that’s where it can get repetitive.

    A business is always going to be self serving and if they think another ‘competitor’ is exposing their lack of credibility and half truths there is bound to be backlash. Whilst I am not involved with the music biz not do I retail any music I have no axe to grind but it does appear having read your posts for quite a while that this exposing of CD res disguised via large bit buckets and up-sampling is not going to change.

    How about telling us of the latest and greatest recording you have just completed or new artists signed up and what microphones you use and in what configuration? It would make a nice change.

    Let those purveyors of lies hang them selves and report them to the trades description folk and be done with rants (?) in your blog…………………just an idea that I am daft /caring enough to print.

    • Steve, I take your points and agree. It’s a struggle everyday to read and see the hocus pocus and not respond. I have done a lot on the production process and will tilt more in this direction as I continue.

  • It was truly a priveldge and honor to have a professor as knowledgeable as yourself Dr. Waldrep. Unfortunately for myself I wasn’t one of your A students, however I did get a lot from your classes and I only plan on applying my knowledge to the best if my abilities. I didn’t get to say much on graduation day but thank you for being that teacher who was so compassionate about teaching that he went to great lengths to make sure each student did the best he/she could. Thank you

    • Thanks Jelani for coming by the site and posting. Please stay in touch and good luck with your career.


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