Seven-time Grammy-winning mixing engineer Michael Brauer came to Ohio University to teach students in the music production and recording industry how to use 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 is extremely passionate and articulate,” said Josh Antonuccio, director of the OHIO School of Media Arts and Studies and organizer of the master class.
For music industry insiders, Brauer is a legend. Over his four-decade career, he has mixed music for some of the music industry’s most prolific artists such as Aretha Franklin, Rolling Stones, Coldplay, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. For his work, he won Grammy Awards for mixing Coldplay’s “Parachutes” and “Viva la Vida”; “Multi Viral” by Calle 13; “Eve” by Angélique Kidjo and “Continuum” and “Battle Studies” by Mayer.
“When you have people at that level it can be intimidating, but he’s so good with the students,” Antonuccio said.
His impact on the recording industry was so profound that sound engineers now use his name as a verb, as in “Brauerize a track”, meaning to use 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. He combined life coaching and letting the four basic emotions guide them to bring out the vision for a song. Teaching young people with no preconceptions about mixing was very rewarding, they absorbed everything.
Instead of getting bogged down in the technicalities that come with music production, the heart of Brauer’s approach revolves around his ability to find the hidden emotion deep within a track and let that guide how the track is produced, according to Antonucio. His ability to mix with dynamics and depth is what makes Brauer a “living legend” and one of the best mixing engineers in the music industry, Antonuccio said.
Before signing up for the masterclass, Faith Caplinger, a sophomore in music production and the recording industry, had no idea who Brauer was. However, she soon discovered that in addition to working with some of her favorite artists like Franklin and James Bay, he had produced one of her all-time favorite songs “Never Too Much” by Luther Vandross.
“He actually pointed it out during the masterclass, and I was like, ‘Don’t panic,'” Caplinger said.
Caplinger signed up for the masterclass looking for practical tips and experience to apply to music production.
“I don’t have a ton of experience in this area, so to hear a seven-time Grammy-winning musician come and teach us…I was just super excited,” she said.
Brauer told the class that if you can bring out the emotion in a track, you’ll be successful. For Caplinger, this approach resonated deeply.
“It’s really about feeling it, getting out of your gut 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 said almost all of the students would then go straight home to mix their own musical projects.
Antonuccio, who has also had a long career as a producer and mixer, has known Brauer in the music recording business for years. Brauer has been a guest lecturer in Antonuccio’s classes since 2013. In the past, Brauer has hosted an exclusive masterclass on OHIO mixing at his studio in New York.
“His three-day mixing workshop gave students the opportunity to learn directly from a living legend and develop a holistic approach to their creative workflow,” said Antonuccio. “Overall, it was a transformational experience for these students.”