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York St John University students mix it up at Abbey Road Studios

Published: 26 March 2024

  •   Featured
  •   Students
Students stood on the Studio 2 stairs

Budding producers and sound engineers at York St John University got a once in a lifetime opportunity to sit behind the mixing desks at Abbey Road Studios to produce upcoming artists. 
In collaboration with BBC Music Introducing in York & Humberside, Music Production students were fully hands on recording and mixing tracks for upcoming artists from the region. 
Students spent two days in the world-famous Studio 2, home to seminal recordings by The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Oasis, Ed Sheeran, Kate Bush, Paul Simon and Travis, amongst many other legends. 
The final year Music Production students worked alongside Abbey Road’s resident sound engineers to produce tracks by Ruth Lyon, Wanderland, Beth McCarthy, Kindelan and The Sam Johnson Trio.  
All artists were curated by BBC Music Introducing and the tracks will be broadcast in the next few weeks to celebrate the one-year anniversary of the joint BBC/York St John University Balcony Sessions, which have seen students gain real-life experience creating content for weekly broadcasts on the BBC. 
Known for supporting local talent to stardom, the Balcony Sessions are providing opportunities for not just aspiring artists but also students who want to work in the music industry. These sessions are broadcast on Radio York and BBC Radio Humberside on Thursday and Saturday nights. 
Abi Shaw, a Music Production and Creative Business student who has been running the Balcony Sessions with classmates, said recording at Abbey Road had been “incredibly surreal”. 
“It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m in my final year now and I’m sad to be at the end. Our lecturers are amazing and the opportunities we’ve got through doing this and working with the BBC, the networking we’ve been able to do, are the type of stuff that sets you up for life and in a career doing this.” 
While in London the students also got an exclusive opportunity to tour the facilities at BBC’s Maida Vale studios – a surprise that was unveiled to them when they appeared live on-air during BBC York’s Georgey Spanswick at Breakfast Show in February. 
The Abbey Road sessions were the brainchild of Chris Johnson, Senior Lecturer in Music Production, who said: “Music Production students from York St John University produce work at Abbey Road studios every year but this was a truly unique opportunity for them to gain hands-on experience in such a legendary studio.  
“Students were entirely responsible for every aspect of the organisation, co-ordination and recording of these tracks. It’s been an absolutely unbelievable experience for them and it gives them real world knowledge to pursue this as a career. The students can now say they produced live tracks for the BBC at Abbey Road! 

“We have been so fortunate to work alongside BBC Music Introducing as it’s a chance to not only build our students skills and networking, but it also shows our commitment to supporting grass roots artists in North Yorkshire.” 
As well as setting up the studio and recording, the student engineers and producers had to act as artist liaison with the bands, making sure they felt comfortable and relaxed in the sessions to make sure the artists not only gave the best performance they could, but also so that the tight schedule was adhered to.  
This is an invaluable experience for any budding recording engineer and highlights the versatile skillsets needed in these professional recording sessions to get the job done to a standard high enough for broadcast on BBC radio.    
One of the acts the students recorded at Abbey Road Studios was North Yorkshire-born folk/chamber-pop artist Ruth Lyon.  
Ruth said: “I had a fantastic time working with the students and I fully support any opportunities like this encouraging young people to work in the creative industries.  
“They were all brilliant to work with, very knowledgeable and professional. I could feel how inspired everyone felt working together in the room and I am really proud to have been part of this project." 
Declan Vink, a producer for BBC Music Introducing in York & Humberside and a former MA in Entrepreneuring & Innovation student at York St John, said that the quality of the work produced by the students had been amazing from the very first Balcony Session. 
“It was just a concept when I first went to the University in 2023 but they recorded one band as a trial and we were all just blown away. It literally sounded like a Maida Vale session,” said Declan. 
“The students have never failed to deliver on time and the work has always been of a very professional standard – which is great, because they’re building up real world experience when they decide to go out and do this as a career.” 
Previous Balcony Sessions recordings made by York St John University students can be found on the BBC Music Introducing web pages.  
Learn more about York St John’s Music Production and Technology courses 


From left to right in the photo: students Thomlin Richmond-Hughes, Adrian Castro Meras, Rosi Landy Freitas, Abi Shaw, alumni John Ricketts, and Cameron Joseph. 

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