Publications, Projects, Research

Publications: books on audio engineering

Podcast Audio: Make Your Show Sound as Good as Your Content

Most podcasters are expert in lots of things other than audio. Creative warriors are on the front line churning out stories and other great content week after week, helping to build what’s become a serious industry. But podcasts are about audio, after all, and not understanding the basics has its consequences. Too many shows are difficult to listen to and understand what’s going on. Others could use some polishing so they can hang with the big-time productions from NPR and the like. With just a little guidance and practice, one learn how to properly record with a mic, make it sound good, and produce a final show file that will help the show sound better and more professional

Recording Audio: Engineering in the Studio

Most audio recording books are either too complicated for new engineers or too dumbed down (sometimes even inaccurate). So I wrote my own book designed specifically for students who want to learn solid fundamentals as they develop their engineering skills and knowledge.

Mixing for God: A Volunteer’s Guide to Church Sound

This book is geared specifically for volunteers that run sound for their churches. Most of these folks are not trained in audio, yet much of what they have to do can be complicated to understand. As part of my larger quest to re-imagine what a textbook should be, this resource is different from standard books on the subject. Using cognitive psychology and learning theory as a basis, the design of the book is better suited to provide learners with a solid understanding of sound systems and operational procedures. (See mental models later on this page.)

The book is available for sale from Amazon, and nearly 100 audio examples described in the book are available on this website (see book link above).

Publications: books on other topics

Imagineering an American Dreamscape: Genesis, Evolution, and Redemption of the Regional Theme Park

This book traces the lineage from the grand world expositions, Coney Island, Disneyland, and the scores of regional theme parks around the country. I tell the stories behind those parks and the strong-willed individuals who had the vision and sheer guts to get them built.

Elizabeth City: Rediscover Home

Most people never really see their hometown, being too absorbed in daily life. You take things for granted and completely miss the beautiful architecture, scenery, and history. This book presents a photographic journey into the rich heritage of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, a quiet, unassuming, thoroughly charming town on the Pasquotank River.

Publications: podcast

I am the designer and producer for the Themed Attraction Podcast, a show based on theme park design. Two of my friends who used to work for Disney are the show’s co-hosts, and we feature designers and other professionals in the themed entertainment industry. Great stuff for park fans, enthusiasts, and professionals.

Publications: video

A dear friend of mine was a featured soloist for decades in The President’s Own United States Marine Band. A small band of valiant students helped me compile a treasure trove of photos and interviews to produce a short documentary that pays tribute to his extraordinary career. Along with examples of his amazing performances, you’ll enjoy plenty of great stories as he played for various presidents.

Publications: articles

Hill, B. R. (2018). Teaching audio: time for a paradigm change? ProSoundWeb, February 8, 2018.

Hill, B. R. (2017). I heard it through the grapevine. ProSoundWeb, June 26, 2017.

Hill, B. R. (2006). Teaching with ProTools? Proceed with caution! The development of mental models for recording engineering instruction. MEIEA Journal, 6(1), 29-58. (PDF)

Hill, B. R. (2003). Are your learners learning? A critical look at how and what we teach. MEIEA Journal, 3(1), 85-91.

Professional conference presentations

Worship Summit Live 3.0, July 29, 2020. Mixing for live streams.

Worship Summit Live 2.0, April 2, 2020. How do you spell EQ?

Worship Summit Live, January 24, 2020. Audio for church production.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting, Denver, CO, 2013.
Selected presenter: Reimagining Textbooks (Print and E-Books) to Better Match Learners’ Cognitive Models. (PDF coming soon…)

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting, Austin, TX, 2010.
Selected presenter: Are Your Students “Getting It”? Just Look At Their Mental Model – Insert Brain Probe, Or Use The Card Sort Assessment Technique (latter preferred).

Association for Educational Communications and Technology, Louisville, KY, 2009.
Selected presenter: Are Your Students “Getting It”?  Just Look at Their Mental Model – Insert Brain Probe, Or Use the Card Sort Assessment Technique (latter preferred).

The Teaching Professor Conference, Orlando, FL, 2008
Selected presenter: What Exactly are Your Learners Learning? Applying Mental Model Elicitation Techniques to Enhance Assessment of Your Courses and Programs. (PDF)

Millennium Music Conference, 2007
Panelist: Music Business Education

LVC Music Industry Conference, 2006
Panel Moderator: Publishing, Licensing, & Copyright

NARAS & MEIEA Education Summit, 2006
Nashville, TN
Invited panelist: Record Technology/Production (could not attend)

Teaching and learning presentations (representative samples)

“Want ’em to actually learn something? Try this…”

“Still using paper and notebooks for class projects? Get real – get virtual”

“Using blog-based websites for class and other stuff”

“What are your learners actually learning? Applying mental model analysis as an alternative instructional assessment method–really!”

“Applying human learning principles to course design”

Publications: albums

I have engineered a lengthy list of albums that were commercially released, a good number of which received national radio airplay and distribution. Several of these achieved chart status. I had the privilege of working with great musicians and producers who were masters at their craft. I have provided a list of many of the projects I engineered, quite incomplete only because I never really kept a log of all the albums I had a part of.

Projects & Research

Re-imagining the textbook
Several years ago I finally got fed up with all the standard textbooks in my field. None of them were effective in helping learners understand the subject in a way that matched their cognitive processing. I had already begun redesigning my courses around the concept of mental models, which is how learners cognitively develop knowledge about a subject. Instead of presenting “fundamental facts” chapter by chapter, I introduced concepts and information in context–doing real work in the discipline. Over time this immersion becomes more complex and in-depth, effectively helping learners to transfer what they know–and can do–to new situations. Most any textbook you pull off the shelf looks the same; audio engineering books present chapters focusing on highly technical categories: acoustics, decibels and math, microphone design, sampling theory, and so on. Fundamental learning is based on association; the brain attempts to match new information to something that’s already stored in their model. No one connects with arcane acoustics formulas unless they’ve already worked with them in some way. The idea is to redesign the textbook so that content is presented in context. Linear chapters do not work well here, so we develop a hierarchy of content that matches our contextual immersion into the subject. I’ve developed three books that follow this model, including experimentation with different approaches to the table of contents (another relic) in search of how best to guide the learner as they explore. Even better, we can finally do something creative with e-textbooks beyond just digitizing traditional books, providing innovative windows, guidance, and immersion into the subject in a way that better promotes and enhances learning.

Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at LVC
My doctorate degree is in instructional design, so I am interested in helping educators know more about how people learn and how to develop instructional environments to improve learning. With the support and cooperation of a former Academic Dean, I established the Center to provide information, resources, and assistance to faculty as they work to improve their teaching and course designs. Part of the original goal was to hire a full-time instructional designer and Director, and the College has finally been able to achieve that. So, I’m glad to move on and explore other areas, many of which are described on this page.

Research into mental models of recording engineers
As an educator my goal is to help student engineers develop a solid foundation in recording engineering so they can easily transition into different types of systems and technology after graduation. This is far more complex than merely teaching specific systems such as Pro Tools or a particular console. My current teaching is based on studies I conducted some time ago that applied cognitive psychology research methodology in determining best practices for teaching recording.

Development of a website for applying mental model research to education
Assessing people’s mental models of subjects, such as recording engineering, chemistry, or programming, can help educators better understand how students “see” the course material. From this we can design more effective learning environments that help ensure students are “getting it”. After years of researching and compiling various techniques and issues, I developed a website intended to provide information and advice for educators to try incorporating this method of assessment in their classes. The results will surprise you, so give it a whirl.

Working with K-12 music teachers to improve how music is taught in schools
I teach a graduate course Psychology of Music Teaching and Learning that is part of a master’s program in Music Education. Music instruction is often too focused on developing future Beethovens and Perlmans and not enough on helping all young people develop cognitively and socially through music experiences that are age-appropriate.

Theme Park design course
One of my personal hobbies involves a fascination with Disney Imagineering—the folks who dream up the parks and attractions. Starting with the design of Disneyland in 1955, this group has revolutionized the industry and epitomizes what creative, out-of-the-box thinking ought to look like. I think our schools should do more of this with our kids rather than all the academic stuff they’re saddled with, but that’s another topic. I co-teach a course on themed design and immersive user experience. We break down and analyze Disney parks (and others) into components of storytelling, wayfinding, immersion, and so on. Really fun stuff!

Degree program in digital media & communications
I was one of the original designers for a degree offering at LVC which includes multimedia and Internet technologies. The concept was to offer a liberal arts program which focuses in digital media and user experience. To date the program (now a full-fledged department) has been very successful and attracts students from a wide variety of interests and disciplines. My own program in Audio & Music Production is closely connected with this department, with our students taking each others’ courses and working on collaborative projects.