MPRI students learn how to mix music with seven-time Grammy winner Michael Brauer
Seven-time Grammy award-winning mix engineer Michael Brauer came to Ohio University to teach Music Production and Recording Industry students how to employ some of his signature studio magic through a three-day mixing masterclass from June 24-26.
“It was amazing. Michael is an incredible teacher, he’s extremely passionate and articulate,” said Josh Antonuccio, director of OHIO’s School of Media Arts & Studies and organizer of the masterclass.
For music industry insiders, Brauer is a legend. Through his four-decade career, he has mixed music for some of the music industry’s most prolific artist such as Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. For his work, he has won Grammy Awards for mixing Coldplay’s “Parachutes” and “Viva la Vida;” Calle 13’s “Multi Viral;” Angelique Kidjo’s “Eve;” and Mayer’s “Continuum” and “Battle Studies.”
“When you have people at that level it can be intimidating, but he is so good with students,” Antonuccio said.
His impact on the recording industry has been so profound that sound engineers now use his name as a verb, as in to “Brauerize a track,” which means to employ some of Brauer’s signature sound and compression techniques.
“We had a great time,” Brauer said. “[The students] were all incredibly musical and open-minded to my mixing philosophy. It combined life-coaching and letting the four basic emotions guide them in bringing out the vision of a song. Teaching young people with no preconceived ideas towards mixing was really rewarding, they soaked it all up.”
Instead of getting bogged down by the technicalities that go along with music production, the core of Brauer’s approach revolves around his ability to find the emotion hidden deep in a track and letting that be the guiding force as to how the track is produced, according to Antonuccio. His ability to mix with dynamic and depth is what makes Brauer a “living legend” and one of the top mixing engineers in the music industry, Antonuccio said.
Before enrolling in the masterclass, second-year Music Production and Recording Industry student Faith Caplinger had no idea who Brauer was. However, she soon found out that — in addition to having worked with some of her favorite artists like Franklin and James Bay — he produced one of her all-time favorite songs “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross.
“He actually pointed that out during the masterclass, and I was like, ‘No freaking way,’” Caplinger said.
Caplinger enrolled in the masterclass seeking practical advice and experience to apply to music production.
“I don’t have a ton of experience doing this so hearing a seven-time Grammy award-winning musician was coming to teach us… I was just super excited,” she said.
Brauer told the class that if you can highlight the emotion in a track, you will have a hit. For Caplinger, this approach deeply resonated.
“It is really all about just feeling it and going off of your instincts and letting the story breathe,” she said.
Brauer’s impact on Antonuccio’s students was so profound that after a full eight-hour day with Brauer, Antonuccio’s said nearly all the students would then go directly home to mix their own music projects.
Antonuccio, who has also had a long career as a producer and mixer, has known Brauer through the music recording community for years. Brauer has been a guest lecturer in Antonuccio’s classes going back to 2013. In the past Brauer has hosted an exclusive OHIO Mixing masterclass at his studio in New York City.
“His three-day mixing workshop gave students the opportunity to learn first-hand from a living legend and to develop a comprehensive approach to their creative workflow,” Antonuccio said. “Across the board, it was a transformational experience for these students.”