How To Become a Theater Sound Designer

Sound design can be defined as “the manipulation of audio elements to achieve a desired effect”. The field of sound design is both creative and technical. It includes all the auditory components of a performance, whether in music, films, artwork, or even computer game software. A Sound Designer is the person in charge of designing the music and sound effects that round out any performance.

Sound designers work closely with directors and with the stage management team and probably the performers, musicians and musical directors, to create and design the production’s overall sound requirements such as sound effects, performance sound levels, and music to enhance the theatrical production. They prepare the equipment plans, music plans as well as sound effects plans. Sometimes the roles of being a sound designer and a sound technician can be interchanged or be performed just by one person depending on the size and need of the production company.

The role of a theater sound technician is different from a theater sound designer. The theater sound technician is responsible for all aspects of sound during the performance including sound reinforcement, sound effects, music and dialogue and controlling sound levels. In short, the technician follows the plans that have been designed by the theater sound designer.

Here is what you need to do to be a theater sound designer.

  • You must develop and demonstrate the enthusiasm, and interest in anything related to sound by experimenting, exploring and learning about audio technology and its capabilities.
  • You should learn how to use and operate almost all types of sound and audio equipment and sound technology as well as the licensing and management of radio transmission systems
  • You can be a graduate of a technical course related to sound and electronics or gained experience working for sound equipment hire companies, the music industry.
  • You can also enroll in a course in Sound Technology, Acoustics and Music Recording, and Audio Engineering.
  • Get a job as a stage manager, as a musician or as roadie/technician with bands that exposes you to the handling and operation of different sound equipment
  • You must display a deep knowledge about sound and how to put them to effective use and the sensitivity to know what can be achieved in terms of sound and sound effects for any production, in different venues
  • Knowledge of theater production processes, excellent IT skills and good communication and people skills
  • Display the ability to adopt before and during a performance, show patience, self-discipline, reliability, diplomacy and sensitivity when working with artists, directors and members of the production company
  • You must have knowledge in problem solving, the willingness to work irregular and long hours, keen attention to details, and the ability to concentrate for long periods of time

Most of the theater sound technicians and theater sound designers learn most of their practical skills from hands-on experience. You should not stop learning and adding more knowledge and experience because theater and sound technology and working practices are continually changing and evolving.


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