THE BLACKBIRD ACADEMY
Any great education is centered in a hands-on environment, and at The Blackbird Academy, you will have over 700 hours classroom, labs & studios. There is no substitute for learning hands-on, from the best professional instructors, in rooms and on gear that is used to make top quality music every day. The lessons learned at The Blackbird Academy will help you find work in an industry that is competitive, challenging and rewarding.
The Blackbird Academy was founded by recording and live sound engineer John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride. They opened Blackbird Studio in 2002, and it quickly grew to be a top spot for award-winning producers, engineers and recording artists including Kings of Leon, The Black Keys, Kid Rock, Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and many more.
When interviewing interns and employees for Blackbird Studio, John would ask various questions about audio production such as, “What is your favorite kick-drum mic?” The answers revealed that many graduates of audio programs had little hands-on time in a recording studio. Another response that shocked him was, “How much did your education cost?”
John quickly realized that not only did these grads still have a lot to learn, but that they had also accumulated a large amount of debt paying for tuition. After talking about the ideas they had regarding audio education, John and Martina founded The Blackbird Academy. John hired Carma DiCianni, Mark Rubel and Kevin Becka – all longtime audio engineers, musicians and educators – and they went to work creating the program.
What The Blackbird Academy team developed is a curriculum that is:
2) Mentor-driven, and
3) Features access to Blackbird Studio’s world-class gear and facilities.
What does that mean? It means you learn by doing. You work in the same studios and on the same gear that brings music professionals worldwide to Blackbird. And, you are taught by and work alongside some of the top engineers in the entertainment industry.
Experience the difference in audio education and apply to The Blackbird Academy today.
President, Institutional Director
John McBride, owner of the internationally renowned Nashville-based Blackbird Studio and Institutional Director of The Blackbird Academy, has spent his entire life in the pursuit of quality, professional sound. Getting his start in live sound by launching MD Systems Sound in his hometown of Wichita, he came to Nashville in late 1990. He sold the company to Clair Brothers Audio in 1997 and fulfilled a lifelong dream by opening Blackbird Studio in 2002 and hosting sessions from the likes of Tim McGraw, Kid Rock, and Grammy-winning projects by Jack White and Kings of Leon. An avowed champion of analog recording, he has amassed one of the greatest collections of vintage and modern recording equipment on the planet, including a microphone collection without equal. In 2013, he opened The Blackbird Academy, dedicated to advancing the quality of recording education through a hands-on, professional training curriculum. John was recognized at the 2014 Pensado Awards where he won for Live Sound / FOH engineer and Educator. He is married to country superstar Martina McBride, his partner in life and business; they have three children.
Director Of Student Operations & Marketing
Carma DiCianni has been in the education and music industries for over 20 years. While in the music industry she has worked in recording studios, tour management and as a professional event/concert photographer. Carma has worked with artists/bands including Bon Jovi, Stone Temple Pilots, Ted Nugent, Alice Cooper, Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and many more. Carma believes that education is an essential part of life. She has taught at the high school, university and corporate levels. Carma has degrees in Education, Audio Engineering and Entertainment Business.
Career Services and Account Manager
Blair Gallimore is from Greenville, NC. She came to Nashville to pursue a singing career and to attend Belmont University. Blair graduated in May 2009 with a degree in Music Business. During her time at Belmont, she interned at Blackbird. In January 2010, she was hired as our Receptionist / Client Services / Administrative Assistant. In Spring 2017, she moved to run the Accounts Receivables / Payables at the studio, as well as being the Career Services and Account Manager for The Blackbird Academy. We are happy to have her back at Blackbird!
Rolff handles all of the bookings for the many studios at Blackbird. As Blackbird Studio's manager, Rolff also oversees all operations and scheduling for The Blackbird Academy.
Director Of Live Sound
Scott is a North Carolina native who moved to Nashville in 2017 to teach at Blackbird. He has been a musician for more than twenty years. He started out playing in bands before moving to the other side of the console. He studied at Guildford Tech and double majored in Recording Engineering and Concert Sound & Lighting. At the time he was doing freelance work for production companies and the local IATSE. This led him to a gig with Imagine Design and Productions, where he was an audio engineer, systems designer, and installer.
Instructor, Director of Education
Mark Rubel has taught audio, music technology, music business, and the history of rock to thousands of students since 1985. He has taught at various colleges and universities, and served as the Audio and Recording Director at Eastern Illinois University’s $70 million Doudna Arts Center.
Mark has recorded and produced extensively since 1980, both at his Pogo Studio in Champaign, Illinois and elsewhere. His list of clients includes Hum, Alison Krauss, Rascal Flatts, Fall Out Boy, Ludacris, Adrian Belew, Luther Allison, Jay Bennett, Melanie, Ian Hobson, Henry Butler and many more. For the Wall to Wall/Ellnora Guitar Festival, he has recorded Los Lobos, Calexico, Ani DiFranco, The National, Junior Brown, Derek Trucks, Taj Mahal and many others. He serves as panelist, moderator, lecturer, workshop leader and recording judge at numerous audio conferences, including national and regional Audio Engineering Society Conferences, the Tape Op and Potluck Conferences, SXSW, and many more. He is on the national board of SPARS (the Society of Professional Recording Services) and also belongs to NARAS, AES, ASCAP, MEIEA and EARS.
Mark is a musician, recording engineer and producer, and also works as a consultant and legal expert witness in the fields of audio and copyright. He has written occasionally in such publications as Mix Magazine and for Tape Op Magazine, for whom he interviewed Les Paul.
Instructor / Studio Engineer
Jeremy Cottrell has worked for Blackbird Studio since it opened in 2002 and for The Blackbird Academy since it opened in 2013. His engineering credits include Sheryl Crow, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Martina McBride, Keith Urban, Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Alison Krauss, Big & Rich and Jars Of Clay. Jeremy is originally from Oklahoma.
Instructor / Studio Engineer
Kevin Boettger is an audio engineer with over ten years of professional studio experience. After spending time in New Haven, CT working at Trod Nossel studios and studying Audio Engineering at the University of New Haven, Kevin decided to move to Nashville to pursue an audio engineering career at Blackbird Studio. Kevin has had the opportunity to work with artists such as Kacey Musgraves, Tim McGraw, Kenny Chesney, Paramore, Capital Cities, Dan + Shay, Willie Nelson, and more. In 2018, Kevin had his hands on three projects that won Grammy awards: Willie Nelson’s ‘My Way’ (BEST TRADITIONAL POP VOCAL ALBUM), Dan + Shay ‘Tequila’ (BEST COUNTRY DUO/GROUP PERFORMANCE) and The Travelin’ McCoury’s self-titled record (BEST BLUEGRASS ALBUM). After spending some time pursuing an apprenticeship at Georgetown Masters, Kevin is back at The Blackbird Academy sharing his knowledge and experiences with students.
Instructor / Producer
A Texas native, Bryan began his professional guitar playing career as the opening act for legendary jazz guitarist Larry Carlton. A graduate of University of Southern California (BM, DMA), and University of Texas (MM), His music is regularly featured on FOX, ESPN, VH1, Lifetime Network, WB Network, and the History Channel. He has worked with a diverse range of artists: Bonnie Raitt, Lisa Loeb, Scott Henderson, renowned Chinese Erhu virtuoso Xiaohui Ma, Phil Keaggy, and Kelsea Ballerini to name a few.