Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 | Page 62


Hearing the Future : Out of the Pandemic and Into the Next Generation

Part Two
By Josh Moyer

In my December article , I promised more insight and potential solutions to training the next generation in this new “ virtual ” environment . In the short time since then , the streets of Midtown Manhattan are once again busy with people . And here at Pomann Sound , we continue to record a steady stream of talent while our mixers plug away at home on animation and unscripted projects . But with people returning to their pre-pandemic routines , I ’ ve yet to see many of our clients return for supervised sessions . Most of us , it seems , still work from home . To what extent this will become the new normal remains to be seen .

To quickly recap , we previously discussed the challenge faced by training interns while most of the staff works remotely , and how it ’ s important we address this challenge sooner than later because of the risks involved — inexperienced professionals and stagnant work environments . Therefore , I ’ d like to share our attempt to create a plan and use communication to minimize these risks , all in an effort to keep employees productive and happier . Our attempt may fail , requiring us to readjust , but with no magic solution it gives us a place to start .
The Plan We started by assembling a set of projects for interns to work on . These projects serve a few purposes . First , they keep the interns engaged while they ’ re at the studio . Without the constant activity of clients and staff , we want to feel confident interns are not wasting their time with us . Second , these projects help build and fine-tune our interns ’ skills methodically . Projects are grouped into categories ( recording , sound design , and mixing ), and within these categories , sequenced to build skills layer by layer . Third , these projects help us track our interns ’ progress while flagging any gaps in their knowledge . Finally , and most importantly , once a project is complete it requires us to schedule feedback from our staff .
Feedback is usually given during a weekly one-on-one Zoom meeting between one of the mixers and the intern . In these meetings , we address an intern ’ s questions , and along with any feedback , share relevant experiences and insights . We ’ re always looking for ways to add value to these meetings , so as an exercise , we journal our day-to-day challenges . These personal notes help keep conversations timely relating to technical and creative issues .
Along with projects and virtual meetings , we coordinate times when staff are at the studio . A bit of extra effort is required here . Mostly because we ’ re hoping to strike a balance between working remotely and meeting in-person while endeavoring to maintain our present working standards . The goal is to have mixers around the studio a day or two a week , allowing interns to observe work in-person and gain valuable face-to-face time . It ’ s also a great chance to get to know our interns in hopes of one day welcoming them to our team .
Communication In my experience , there ’ s a fair amount of resistance to any new plan . By resistance , I mean anything we experience that gets in our way of accomplishing the day ’ s plans and goals . It could be as simple as the extra personal effort required to put a plan in place , or people being required to change their work routines . Whatever it may be , I believe we can minimize resistance through communication .
How do we communicate ? It starts with stating why we were creating a plan in the first place , clearly explaining what we aim to accomplish . Next , we meet and define our plan ’ s goals and expectations together . Using this time to air any questions or concerns before committing to how we plan to move forward . Ideally , creating a plan everyone feels comfortable with and willing to be held accountable to .
The same applies to the intern . We want to instill some context for them to understand how our business has changed and what challenges they may face . We also want to discuss our expectations for them , as well as our expectations for ourselves , letting them know we value the experience we ’ re about to undertake together . With all of this said , I believe it ’ s equally important that we understand their personal goals and desires as well . This way , we can thoughtfully adjust our plan with them in mind .
Although not perfect , what I ’ ve hoped to share is a starting point . With a plan in place and clear communication we were able to form our foundation . We needed to identify what was missing in our working environment , and move forward in spite of it , step-by-step .
Now that we ’ ve begun , we can start reaping the rewards of a business that ’ s built on continuously fresh perspectives and be ready to take on any new challenges .
Josh Moyer is the Executive Producer of Pomann Sound , the longest running , sole-proprietor audio post-production house in NYC { EST 1984 }. He can be contacted at josh @ pomannsound . com .