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The sound of music Pieces start falling into place to make Tahoe a recording hot spot

By January 26, 2013December 26th, 2019Audio, Blog


South Lake Tahoe, Calif. Jan. 16 – 31, 2013

By Elaine Goodman

The sound of music

Pieces start falling into place to make Tahoe a recording hot spot

Nashville. Los Angeles. South Lake Tahoe? While Lake Tahoe’s South Shore is unlikely to become a major music industry recording capital in the near future, several recent developments might prompt musicians to take a closer look at bringing future projects here.

Lake Tahoe Community College is set to start a commercial music certificate and degree pro- gram this summer. New courses launched this quarter on using Pro Tools software for audio recording and editing are part of the program.

High-tech recording studios have recently opened at South Tahoe High School and Tahoe Production House.

And certain businesses are doing what they can to help aspiring musicians. The expansion of Coyote Grill in Round Hill, opening this month, includes space where musicians can perform, take home a DVD of their performance to study, and potentially stream their show over the Internet via KTHO radio.

“It has that kind of potential here,” Coyote Grill owner Leland Faegre said when asked if Lake Tahoe could become a mecca for music recording.

College program

Several factors led LTCC to introduce a commercial music certificate program and associate’s degree. One of those is the fact that the college does not currently offer a music degree, despite the many music classes offered. Rather, a student can major in visual and performing arts with a music emphasis.

Photo courtesy of TPH

Visitors tour the music recording studio at Tahoe Production House during an open house last year.  Will throngs of people at a Tahoe music studio become a common sight in the future?
To receive the commercial music certificate, a student must take a series of music theory classes, a history of rock class and the Pro Tools sequence. Electives in music history, performance (such as voice, guitar or piano) and group performance are also required.

If a student completes the certificate requirements as well as general education requirements, they can receive an associate’s degree in commercial music.

The addition of the Pro Tools courses will give students a job skill that can help them get a foot in the door with a potential employer, said Mark Williams, who is teaching the class. Pro Tools is a digital audio platform widely used in the music industry for recording and editing music, soundtracks and other audio.

After completing the courses, students can take a test to receive Pro Tools certification from Avid, the software’s manufacturer. The Avid certification is available at different levels, and LTCC hopes to expand its Pro Tools offerings to include higher levels, Williams said.

LTCC offered the Pro Tools class for the first time this quarter, and the class filled up quickly, with 21 students signing up.

“Students have been asking for it for years,” Williams said.

Another possibility is offering the Pro Tools course in a condensed time frame over the summer, to potentially attract people to visit Tahoe to take the class.

Before LTCC decided to move forward with the new commercial music certificate program and degree, a lot of analysis took place, according to LTCC Vice President Tom Greene. One step was to make sure that similar programs weren’t offered by nearby community colleges. Job market data was analyzed to determine the demand for program graduates.  Grant funding was obtained to get the Pro Tools lab up and running.

The commercial music program is intended to mesh with programs at South Tahoe High School, where a high-tech Tahoe Arts and Design Academy opened in 2011. This provides a career path for South Shore students, and one that may allow them to stay at Lake Tahoe after graduation. The computer-based work lends itself to telecommuting, Greene noted.

“These types of telecommuting situations are excellent for our small and rurally isolated community and will ultimately assist with the diversification of our local economy, which is currently dominated by tourism and seasonal employment,” according to a summary of the LTCC program.


Photo courtesy of TPH

The digital audio recording studio at Tahoe Production House features a nearly acoustically perfect room, along with professional grade equipment and instruments that can be rented.

Professional facilities

While programs at the high school and college will train music industry professionals, new recording facilities at the South Shore have the potential to bring musicians to the area to work on projects.  STHS has planned to make its Tahoe Arts and Design Academy facilities available to the public, for example, to musicians who want to lease the recording studio.

Tahoe Production House has seen an upswing in the number of musicians seeking out its recording studio, said TPH owner Brandi Ledbetter Brown.  Musicians are learning they can multi-task while at the studio. For example, a band can perform a live show at TPH that is streamed over the Internet, even selling tickets to fans if they’d like. At the same time, the show can be recorded and turned into a CD.

“People like deals. People like bundles,” Brown said.

On the other hand, musicians might come to TPH to complete just a small piece of a project, such as adding a violin track to a recording.

Wayne Carlson and his son, Josh, of Real Audio Workshops run the TPH digital audio recording studio, which features a Presonus Studio One 24-track mixing board. Because it’s digital, an unlimited number of tracks are possible.  Other services offered to musicians by TPH include rehearsal space rental ($25 per hour) and equipment rental.

In terms of Tahoe becoming a destination for music recording, Brown said the area has the advantage of being more laid back than the big cities, as well as having an abundance of natural beauty. Compare that to being stuck in traffic and breathing in smog. “Don’t you want to come here for a week and record your next album?” she said.

While the current focus at TPH is helping customers with their projects, Brown said a long-term goal is to produce their own projects, for example through a TPH record label.