I enrolled with your program back in early 2009. I specifically chose this program over several others that were available, because as an idea it made the most sense. After spending most of my life learning nothing but theory within the confines of four walls, I appreciated the idea of actually learning through hands on experience. I was under the impression that I would have one to one time with a mentor, who would show me the basic inner workings of what it means to work in a professional recording studio, including the hardware, software and anything in between. Unfortunately, what I experienced was very different.
The first studio I worked at was Elephant Recording studios in Glendale. I have nothing but good things to say about Donny Baker, my mentor at the time. He was kind, caring, and definitely knew his stuff. Unfortunately, this did not translate into anything very useful. I would show up, occasionally receive a lesson (sometimes other things would come up and I would have to wait around) have the lesson quiz answered for me, and then fax in my completed assignment. This usually took around an hour to complete, and afterwards, I was allowed to schedule another hour sometime the following week. Donny allowed me to come in more often than an hour a week, but when I would do that, there would be literally almost nothing to do. Either the studio gear was in disarray, there were problems with clients/the studio owner, there were other interns there who were working on their own clients, etc. I helped answer the phones once, and retrieved a box of donuts for a session once (which came out of my pocket), but never did anything having to do with actual music production. I could understand if I were an intern volunteering my time, and can even understand that by no means am I the center of attention simply because I paid money to be a part of this program. But despite getting 4 lessons "completed," I had not actually done, or learned a single thing. I was also told that I was going to be sent an "MBox" after I completed my 10th lesson, but I was sent one after my 5th, and told that it's ok to get it much earlier. Now I'm stuck with a piece of recording gear that I have no use for/was never taught how to use. Things were simply too inconsistent/chaotic/unorganized for anything to get accomplished. At this point, I was discouraged, but still hopeful that maybe the studio just wasn't the right fit for me.
After many months, I was transferred to "Night Bird Recording Studios" off of sunset boulevard. Again, my mentor Steve was a great guy, who was extremely knowledgeable, and very personable. However, it became apparent to me that I was nothing more than a janitor for them. I was told by the studio manager that at best I could expect one hour a week of lessons, but that Steve giving me a lesson was lowest on the totem pole, and would only take place if there was nothing else going on. She then went on to tell me that "basically, you paid $7500 to get your foot in the door, so don't expect anything above and beyond that." For the next two weeks, I mopped, vacuumed, dusted, cleaned and catered to every demand the manager had, which also included food runs and mail runs. I didn't receive a single lesson there, and the closest I got to anything hands on was watching some interns assemble a drum kit for a session set to take place later that night. On one occasion, the studio's secretary made me very uncomfortable by asking me to run an errand for her, only to verbally berate and criticize me before I had left the building. On top of this, I was told that I should expect to be called at any and all hours to help cater to clients for sessions. The way I saw it, I paid $7500 to perform janitorial duties. For what it's worth, at both studios I was at, every intern I worked with eventually quit or was fired (most left voluntarily).
My experience there was nothing short of appalling, and when I called Miles (my student coordinator at the time) and told him about my situation, he promised me he understood and would get back to me before the week was over. One month later, after hearing nothing from Miles, I called and was informed that he had parted ways with the company a few weeks earlier. Maya was his replacement, and was (not through any fault of her own) completely unaware of my situation. No one had bothered to tell me that Miles was no longer an employee, and I was left in the dark for a month, waiting for something to happen.
My situation at Swinghouse recording studio was no better. Warren was a nice, knowledgeable guy with obvious talent and experience. But he was far too busy, and it became clear within 3 days of being there (from the hours of 10 am - 10 pm) that I would be nothing more than the guy who got food for everyone, got to sit in on some sessions, and if I was lucky, would have a lesson taught to me by one of the other students there. Not Warren. Again, I paid $7500 for one on one time. At best I could see getting 1 hour a week of one one one time. I did not pay money to be an errand boy. I could have done that for free,
At this point, I am simply disillusioned and deeply disappointed with the program. Maybe I am an exception to the rule, but despite having been to three studios (which I was assured were fantastic fits for me) and having completed (given the answers to) 5 lessons, I have not been taught or learned anything about recording techniques. I can't confidently say I've learned anything about life working in a recording studio either, because 2 of the 3 studios were in disarray, and I was told that circumstances were unusual because of the unique economic conditions taking place.
It is for these reasons that I am requesting a refund. I have had too many promises broken, and too many expectations unmet. I understand if I cannot be refunded for the books and mbox, but other than that, I expect to receive a full refund. My records might show that I have completed a certain amount of lessons, but having answers fed to me is not my idea of learning, and I should not be charged for something I did not receive. I sincerely hope that you'll do the right thing and refund me the money. I am already discouraged enough, and am prepared to do whatever it takes to see that I am returned the money I feel I am owed.