Focus On Chris Wallitsch
Chris Wallitsch is a senior at Hofstra graduating in May 2011. His major is Music Merchandising with a minor in Marketing. He has had two internships: one with Modern Vintage Recordings at New York’s Cutting Room Studios, and the second is with Body in Motion Music.
Why did you choose to attend Hofstra?
I am from Long Island, New York. I chose Hofstra and the Music Department because it was not even a question that I wanted to be a music major. I have always admired Hofstra's music program. One of my greatest music mentors before college graduated from the Hofstra Music Department.
What instruments do you play?
I play percussion, drumset, guitar, bass, and piano. At Hofstra, I perform in the Percussion Ensemble and the University Choir. I enjoy the challenging pieces we get to play and the people we get to spend our time rehearsing with.
What are your responsibilities at your internships?
Modern Vintage Recordings is a record label that works out of New York's Cutting Room Studios. My responsibilities get mixed up between Modern Vintage work and Cutting Room work. Generally I do CD/mailings, artist relations and social media management for Modern Vintage. I also assist and engineer recording projects for both Modern Vintage and The Cutting Room as well as edit albums and tune vocals with auto-tune software.
At Body In Motion Music in Point Lookout, New York, I am the head engineer and mix engineer. This includes physically recording/tracking the music and mixing it to make it sound like the final product you would hear on the radio.
How did you get these internships? How did you make sure to get class credit?
I got this internship [with the Cutting Room] completely on my own. The Cutting Room allows clients who are unable to come to New York to have their songs mixed while the client is watching on Skype or chatting live on iChat. After getting no response from sending my resume, I noticed the Cutting Room screen name popped up on my buddy list. I just sent them an instant message and said I want an internship. They told me to come in for an interview. I chatted with the studio manager for about 10 minutes and was then given the internship. My faculty adviser has been Dr. Ken Lampl [associate professor of music]. I make sure I'm doing all the correct things in order to receive credit by showing up on time, being efficient, being productive, and frequently discussing what is going on with my faculty adviser.
I got my second internship through Dr. Lampl. I called the manager of Body & Motion and set up an interview, and that was it. I use the same philosophy that I discussed with the Cutting Room in regards to making sure I'm doing everything right to receive credit.
What have you gotten academically and also professionally out of the internships?
Academically, with both internships, I have learned a lot about the recording process, the politics of a major recording studio, and how to deal with clients and musicians of all types. In terms of networking, I've made friends with many of Manhattan and Brooklyn's finest musicians as well as made contacts in a few other high-end New York studios; including Avatar Studios and Mission Sound.
What would you say are some of the important do’s and don’ts of being an intern?
Some of the do's include being on time, doing what you're asked – even if you think it's pointless or unfair at times – , being productive, working quickly and efficiently, and generally being charismatic and fun to be around.
Some of the don'ts, especially in a recording studio, include making sure you aren't working too slow – studio hours are expensive! And making sure you don't cross the political barrier between a client and their producer.
As an intern I am given a wonderful opportunity to sit in on some amazing recording sessions. I may have an idea for a song that is being recorded, for example, I may feel that in the bridge of the song, it might be better to go to a minor iv chord before moving to the V chord. Or maybe I may feel that the lyrics could be tweaked a little better. Even though these ideas may be great, it is completely unprofessional to share this idea. Not only does it undermined the role of the producer, but the client may turn around and think, "Why am I spending $20,000 on this record when I can just do it with this intern for cheaper? He seems to know just as much."
What are your plans after graduation?
My plans for post graduation include continuing these internships and working toward a full-time career in the recording industry. I also intend to keep doing side projects in my person project studio at home. I hope one day I will own my own studio.