Life as a Sound Engineer

Life as a Sound Engineer by Sarah Lockett

Sarah Lockett

I’m a sound engineer/composer based in Manchester and am currently a student at Salford University. I’ll be graduating this July (2012) with a BA(Hons) in Popular Music and Recording. My introduction to music pretty much came from my family, as my dad would sit and play imaginary drums, at the age of four, and also my Granddad who used to play me the organ and the accordion.

When I was younger I had it stuck in my head that I wanted to be a professional ballet dancer, as all little girls do, but as I got older I realised my passion was more for the music. I began guitar lessons, followed by piano and singing, but dropped the guitar to concentrate on piano and singing. My love for music technology blossomed at Mid-Cheshire College and since university, composition has become a huge passion of mine. I work as a shadow engineer with a Manchester based PA company called NoiseBox and also a freelance sound engineer.

Working as a sound engineer is both frustrating and rewarding. As I am still learning it can be a little stressful and frustrating, but when you manage to pull it off the feeling is great. As a woman working in live sound it can also be frustrating as a lot of men feel the need to help out with all the heavy lifting, which I am perfectly capable of (thank you very much). The main thing I love about this job is that you are not in the same place every day; you are literally all over the place depending on where your job takes you. The people you come across as well are just amazing and you get to work with some ridiculously talented people – both musicians and technicians. I’ve currently shadowed in Club Academy, The HMV Ritz, Sound Control, the Roadhouse and The Witchwood pub in Ashton, where I am now starting to get paid shifts. It’s an enjoyable challenging job as you are constantly on your toes making sure the gig runs smoothly, which again makes it so much more exciting!

Since my time at Salford, I have really started to realise my potential and passion for composition for film, which I hope to pursue even further next year in a Masters Degree in Composition. I am in love with the fact that music can direct people’s emotions and create atmospheres that actors may not be able to put across. In this final year at Salford I have been working on a portfolio based on the idea of writing music for a scene, which could be used for a film or in theatre. I took a book at random, picked it apart and rewrote parts so that I could write the music for the different scenes. The music I write is mainly for orchestral instruments, which has challenged me over the last three years as I only play piano and sing. It has been a challenge as you have to imagine what the characters look like yourself and how they move/act to try and create the right musical image. I am heavily influenced by film composers such as Alexandre Desplat, Hans Zimmer and also composers such as Ludovico Einaudi and Richard Wells.

In the future I aspire to be an accomplished sound engineer in Manchester working not only in music venues, but theatres and festivals too. As a composer I hope to start off by working with theatre groups and advertisement to build up my reputation as a composer and eventually work in film, but I know it’s a very competitive industry so I’m not holding my breath. I’m going to keep my options open and let everything fall into place as you never know what’s around the corner.

You can find me on FacebookTwitter @selockett9, and for my music works (which I update when I have music to put up), SoundCloud at

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