Gabarone to Melbourne: a student’s story (Botswana)

Patrick Bob is JMC Academy’s first ever student from Botswana and he will soon graduate with an Audio Engineering degree.

He’s a fan of African jazz, country music and has a new appreciation for AC/DC. He’s a whizz with electronics and starred in a national electronics exhibition in his home country. He is a military Captain, soon to be a Major, with a fully-fitted studio waiting for him in Gabarone - and he will be the first to use it. 

1. What made you interested in Audio engineering originally?

In 2005 I joined the military as Assistant Technical Officer in the military band. It comprised of different ensembles; Military band, Orchestra, Dance Bands, Pipe Band, Steel Pan, Marimba, Traditional, Pantsula and Kwasakwasa. I was working with almost all of them in different capacities but there were few technicians so I had to learn how to do many sound-related things to support them. I had little knowledge at that stage but I had to learn quickly. I did some research in audio and became interested in recording as well. I started doing stereo recordings but the quality wasn't that great – I was limited by my own skills and by the gear we were using.

2. Why did you choose Australia, and why JMC?

I started looking into universities that could offer me a better education for both recording and live sound and I came across JMC Academy. I started sending several emails regarding the audio program and Olga (International Admissions) was very patient and willing to help me get the relevant information. The website helped me to believe that I had finally found the best school, and indeed I did. So Australia introduced me to new technology (digital) and JMC paved the way into this new technology.

3. What was it like to move to Melbourne?

Moving to Melbourne was like a dream come true. I was so excited that I would be experiencing another kind of life and meeting new people. At first it was a little bit hard for me because a lot was happening all at one time. Getting to know my school mates was difficult because for some reason, speaking individually with someone was no problem but when there was a group I felt like they were speaking a different language! Maybe it was because they would be discussing a topic I had no understanding of.

4. What has been your favourite thing about studying at JMC?

At first when I started I thought there weren’t enough contact hours, but I’ve found that this gives me time to do a lot of research for assignments, and this is where a lot of learning occurs. So I learn things in class and I learn from doing assignments and studying for exams. This is a good mix.

I really enjoy my life at JMC and I would recommend it for anyone who might be interested in studying audio. The admin staff and the students are so helpful. I now feel confident to welcome any band into the studio for a recording. I have also acquired knowledge in digital audio processing, which is a vast improvement on what I used to do – Pro Tools makes the job much easier!

I feel confident now in the studio because of the help I have received from the teachers and from my fellow students. I am proud that I understand what recording entails and I have been able to practise using Pro Tools on my own.

I used to do live sound for the military ensembles but I was definitely not equipped! Now that I have spent time learning about live sound I actually understand what I am doing and know how to fix problems as they come up. I can also do more sophisticated things beyond just making sure that sound is coming out of the speakers!

5. What will you do after you graduate?

We have a big studio at home in one of the military camps in Gaborone (capital city) and that’s where I am going to spend the rest of my life. Actually the keys for those studios have been withheld until I finish my course and I would be the first engineer to hit the ON/OFF buttons of the big consoles and whatever else is in there. The studios were furnished with studio gear early last year.

The studios will be used for recording and band rehearsals by the military ensembles I mentioned before. Also, most of the musicians at home like African Jazz and I believe they would love to record with me – I previously turned down demo recording opportunities because at that stage I didn’t feel I had the skills or resources to do that. But now I do.