Friends and students of the Center for Musical Arts may know Michael Quam as an instructor for guitar, ukulele, mandolin and more, but do you also know he has a robust career as a sound and recording engineer? This summer, the Colorado Music Festival (the performance arm of our organization) hosted its first-ever Virtual Festival, and one of the consummate professionals which made that online music festival possible was our own Michael Quam.

Our Executive Director Elizabeth McGuire interviewed Michael Quam about the many hats he wears. Read an excerpt below or click here to read the full interview.

ELIZABETH McGUIRE: You are a musician as well as a recording/sound designer. Which came first? How do the two roles support one another?

MICHAEL QUAM: It all started when I began recording my original music for short films I created as a kid. For the music I played all of the instruments, and for the videos I did all of the filming and editing. I produced maybe 30 or so in a two year period. Many were stop-motion animation and others were music videos. I really had no training at the time but it was really fun and was a great creative outlet for me.

I continued to expand my interest in audio recording in college pursuing a certificate in music technology while at the same time working on undergraduate and graduate degrees in guitar performance with the renowned guitar pedagogue Bruce Holzman.

I studied classical music recording engineering and production with John Hadden. He is known for his early music recordings for Sony and Harmonia Mundi. Since then I have held a number of positions that have helped to broaden my skills in the performing arts with recording engineer and managing performance venue technical staff positions for both universities and municipalities in addition to my own audio and video production company. Over the last 25 years, I have recorded and provided sound reinforcement for many thousands of concerts in addition to producing commercial recordings. I surpassed the 5,000 mark years ago. Back in 2015 I decided to offer high definition multi-camera video production services to my clients.

In short, I have essentially been doing this sort of work my whole life. I guess you could say I was ready for this Virtual Festival opportunity. Does being a trained musician help? Of course, and in fact it would be impossible to produce classical music otherwise. It is not a universal language and requires a deep knowledge and musical experience to produce it as a recorded art form. Some incorrectly think it is all a matter of turning knobs and pushing buttons. The audio and video recording equipment are only tools and the tools will always change and evolve. The musical mind is the only thing that really matters.

Read the full interview here. Interested in taking guitar lessons from Michael? Learn more at his faculty page! If you missed the Colorado Music Festival’s 2020 Virtual Festival, you can still watch brief clips on their YouTube page.