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A collage of six dBs graduates
dBs InstituteApr 26, 2024 8:00:00 AM8 min read

The diverse things you can do with an Access to HE diploma from dBs

Interested in our Access to HE music production diplomas, but worried about limiting your options? Meet the past students who prove a diploma from dBs can open many doors, both inside and outside the audio industry.

Whether you’re weighing up your options for post-19 study or thinking about re-engaging with education as a mature student, choosing a pathway can feel like a lot of pressure. You want to set yourself up for success in the future, but your interests are diverse and you can’t say for sure where that future may lie. We know that ‘getting it right’ can seem like the be-all and end-all, but the reality is, it’s only just the beginning! 

At dBs, our Access to HE diplomas are designed to equip you with the knowledge, experience and connections to thrive in the creative industries. However, they also develop a diverse range of creative, academic and professional skills with applications that stretch far beyond this. 

From learning how to research, reference and structure papers for university-level study, to building your project management, teamwork and presentation abilities, these skills create many transferable opportunities in terms of subject area. 

But don’t take our word for it. Read on to hear from six alumni about the diverse pathways they’ve taken since studying with us and how their diplomas helped them prepare for the next step of their educational and professional journeys. 

Rachel Locke – Software developer

B&W Portrait Photo of Rachel Locke

After completing her diploma in DJ and Electronic Music Production, Rachel progressed onto our FdA Sound and Music Technology and then studied an MSc in Digital Audio Engineering at University of West London. 

She has worked as a Software Engineer for JUCE, Vochlea, Wiley Edge, and currently works as a contractor for ChowduryDSP.

Rachel said: “Attending dBs was a milestone in my life in more ways than one. I was able to discover a vocation I deeply love; I had the privilege of being the student of educators whose lives had been truly devoted to sound. I consider myself profoundly fortunate to have been taught by those still thrilled by their craft.

“I went into dBs quite single-mindedly wanting to be a DJ and I left with a deep love and appreciation for the sonic arts, experimental sound, the psychology of sound, human-computer interaction, and electronics.

“The brilliant minds at dBs instilled us with curiosity and cultivated multidisciplinary education that I now know to be rare. This attitude has led to finding exactly where it is that I fit into the audio technology industry. Without this exploratory approach, I may not have had the confidence to take on the various challenges that have led me to a career as an audio signal processing engineer. 

“Learning about the digital tools that musicians, DJs, and sound engineers use and the way in which they use them has helped me to better understand audio software and plugin architecture.” 

Ben White – Show Designer

Ben White working on live visuals

After completing his Music Production diploma, Ben progressed onto our BA (Hons) Music Production and Sound Engineering degree. For the final project of his degree, he developed a visual projection installation called Tesseract, which he says laid the foundations for his subsequent career in show design through Visual Zuu; a company he has run for the last six years with creative collaborator, Olly Bennett. 

“The tutors at dBs played a really big role in what I’m doing now. It all stemmed from two tutors in particular – Joe and Rich. One day when I was over at Location House, they were there playing around with some projection stuff and I thought to myself “this is hella fun!” So, I started running with what they were doing and then, when it came to the end of my degree, I decided to explore projections for my final project. 

“I had this tutor, Emmanuelle [Spinelli], who encouraged total creativity. He would really push us to just let our brains go mental and do the craziest, out-there projects we could think of. He would say ‘the madder, more unique something is, the better it is because no-one else is going to think of it, so just go with what you feel.’ 

“That really rubbed off on me and so for my final project, I decided I was going to do something that no-one else has ever done before, and something that probably, no-one else will ever do again. I ended up getting a first and everything sort of escalated from there. 

“Different people started asking me to do projections for local shows and from there I decided to look into the industry and how I could build my own business within it.”

Eve Charlotte Haywood – Fashion Design Student

Eve Charlotte Haywood DJing at 1020 Radio

Eve completed the DJ and Electronic Music Production diploma after taking part in a week-long course at our Bristol centre run by Saffron Records. She has since moved to London where she continues to DJ whilst studying for a degree in fashion. Eve said:

“The most valuable aspect of the diploma for me was the networking I got out of it. I met some great people and also learnt skills which helped me understand the music, which I liked. This has been really helpful in general as I will always be a music lover.

“From an academic perspective, my time at dBs helped me understand the uni experience. The work and teaching were very independent which really prepared me for starting my fashion degree. Studying DJ and Electronic Music Production also led me to the realisation that in the future I want to design/style for people in the music industry. I have recently discovered techno fashion which was inspired by the techno scene in the early 90s. I think that's pretty cool that a music genre can also tie into clothing. I can't work without listening to music and I also think it's a massive help when getting it all done!  

“Oh and to add to that... I don't think you can have a fashion show without music! It's a huge part!”

Tom Edwards – Dubbing mixer and post-production consultant

Tom Edwards, co-director of Five29

Since completing his diploma at dBs, Tom has worked for over ten years in broadcast television as a dubbing mixer and post-production manager, working across Denham Audio, before founding his own production company Windwhistle Studio and now acting as Co-Director for Five29

“The diploma was a valuable asset in proving to my employers at the time that I had undertaken the study and had an advantage in showing that I had the skill set to pursue an audio career. The diploma was a foundation for me to build my career on and I still use the things and apply the fundamentals I've learnt in it to this day.

“A key skill gained, which I probably appreciate now more than ever, was learning how to deal with professionals and creatives from all walks of life and adapting my ways of working to different practical situations. Whether that’s working with a VIP in the recording studio, or liaising with a production team for an ongoing project. I have found that every day is different and brings a whole new set of challenges, and dBs helped to prepare me for the creative world of work and the highs and lows that come with it.”

Olly Bignell – Haunt the Woods drummer

B&W photo of Olly Bignell playing drums

Since completing his Music Production diploma at dBs, Olly has gone on to enjoy huge success with his band Haunt the Woods. 

Olly said: “Doing a live sound module as part of my diploma meant that I became familiar with how bands are recorded live, stuff like monitoring and all the different roles within a music venue, so that’s obviously been super relevant. It meant that when I came round to playing in bigger venues with the band, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on, which took the anxiety out of it!

“The electronic side of things crossed over really well too because our producer uses Logic, the software my course was based on. So that really helped when we were recording our album as I could understand what was going on with him.

“One of the great things about dBs was all the connections we made. Loads of opportunities have arisen through the people we met. For example, we met our current sound engineer Bruce through dBs. He was studying on the Live Sound course. We were also allowed to use the spaces to do tech rehearsals which meant we felt way more prepared for playing live than we would have otherwise.”

Ibou Tall  – Jazz Musician turned Film Composer

Ibou Tall playing keyboard

Ibou is a composer and jazz musician who had been touring for 30 years before joining dBs. He joined the Access to Higher Music Production diploma to become more self-sufficient in the production of his own music, as well as to gain the qualifications necessary to progress onto a degree in Music and Sound for Film & TV; a course which he now lectures on as a graduate. 

Ibou said: “The different modules we covered, such as sound design and music production allowed me to get into the mindset of a sound designer and sound engineer. Prior to this, I had always left sound engineers to mix and master my music. I would hire a sound engineer to run musical software such as Logic Pro. Now, being able to do it myself saves me lots of time and money.

“Despite having many years of experience as a professional musician, it is a very interesting experience to be able to expand my skills into new musical genres and a great opportunity to learn the language of film music.”

All you need to know about our Access to HE music production diplomas
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Never too late to learn: Access to HE students share their stories
Am I too old for university?

Keen to find out more? Check out the course pages for the A2HE Music Production and A2HE DJ & Electronic Music Production diplomas