Tri-C Recording Arts and Technology grad has Gotta Groove
November 20, 2015
Rayshad Beeman sat down in his Introduction to Recording class a few years back and noticed something about his other Tri-C classmates. Most of them carried laptops loaded with recording software. They looked like they already knew what they were doing.
“I thought, am I in the right place?” Beeman said. He was, but he had a lot of hard work ahead of him.
These days Beeman, 26, works full-time as a quality assurance technician at Gotta Groove Records, the Cleveland vinyl record-pressing plant. He listens to new records to compare them to the client-approved standard, and he inspects them visually for physical imperfections.
Along the way, Beeman hears a huge variety of music and gains inspiration. Someday he hopes to have his own production company where musicians, recording engineers, visual artists and designers collaborate on new music projects.
As a student at Euclid High School, Beeman loved hip hop and planned simply to work on his music after graduation. But he felt frustrated that he seldom achieved the sound he wanted when other people recorded him. And he didn’t have the technical knowledge to tell them what to do differently.
A guidance counselor told Beeman, “You know you can study that in college, right?” She pointed him to the Recording Arts and Technology program at Cuyahoga Community College. He started at Tri-C in fall of 2008, earning his general education credits first.
Classes went smoothly until he started taking courses in his chosen field. “I got into the program and I realized it was more challenging than I thought,” he said.
That experience is common, said David Kennedy, program manager for Tri-C’s Recording Arts and Technology department.
“Everyone thinks they can push a button and a hit comes out,” Kennedy said. “While there is a very popular machine that does just that — it’s called a radio — we work in a fairly complex environment, much like video. You not only have to know your tools, you have to know your clients’ tools, and music history, and a wide variety of genres and reference material. Unlike video production, where you use equipment that fits a format, we blend instruments and pieces of equipment from all eras, tube and tape to digital.”
In the face of this, Beeman’s strategy was to slow down and take fewer classes so he could absorb the information. Some of the classroom work stumped him at first, he said, but the hands-on work in the recording labs — recording commercials, picking background music — kept him going.
It didn’t take him long to learn to take advantage of the opportunities the program afforded him. “I used to be the only guy in the open lab, every single day,” Beeman said. “Once I realized there’s so much stuff I could learn, I wanted to cram it all in.”
In February 2015, Beeman was invited to be among students involved in the recording of trumpeter Dominick Farinacci’s new CD, “Short Stories,” in the Tri-C studio. Produced by the legendary Tommy LiPuma, the project featured an all-star cast of musicians and technicians. Beeman’s job was to stand by and help whenever the pros needed another hand. He loved being able to offer help on the sound board, and even to be trusted to know which cords were safe to unplug.
By the time Beeman earned his Associate of Applied Science degree in recording arts in spring 2015, he was a full-on fan of the College and reluctant to leave. He sees a path to career success that wouldn’t have happened if he’d stopped his education with a high school diploma.
“If I didn’t go to college, I’d probably be looking for a job,” he said. “Or I’d just be a guy trying to make it.”