Introducing Abbey Road Institute Alumni Tori Sunnucks

Graduate of the Advanced Diploma in Music Production and Sound Engineering.

Hey Tori, thanks for taking a little bit of time to share your experience. Can you start by telling us about your background and interest in music?

I grew up in the heart of the countryside and started playing piano when I was 6, saxophone when I was 11 and it grew from there. I went to my first session when I was 7 and loved it. I would go as often as possible in school holidays, trying to make myself useful by offering coffee and tea. My parents met through the industry so I have always loved and been surrounded by it.

What was your motivation for studying at Abbey Road Institute and what were you hoping to get out of the course?

I had been working at Abbey Road Studios in the canteen and bar for a few months and I heard about the Institute. Since working there I have been surrounded by and met so many amazing, inspiring and lovely people and I hoped it would be the same at the Institute.

I also thought that a course with such a prestigious name behind it was bound to be a great place and there is surely no better place to be when you are studying sound engineering!

The idea that the course taught a whole range of modules and not just sound recording and engineering really appealed to me because I wasn’t sure what aspect of the industry I wanted to be in.

What was your experience like at Abbey Road Institute?

When the course began we were all anxious of how much there was to learn in a year. I think the paced learning idea really helped calm things! After the first 3 months we could use the Avid S6 and after 6 we were allowed to use the studio and Custom 75. Initially a lot of us were frustrated about the supposed lack of access, but in hindsight I believe it helped ease the group as it didn’t feel like quite so much knowledge was being forced on us at once!

A typical day at the Institute would begin at 10 o’clock with a 3 hour lecture. It would usually be 2 hours of teaching with an hour to put what we had learnt into context where the lecturer would be on hand to help. After the lecture we would work on various projects, whether they were for the Institute or external use, using the production suites, S6 or studio.

Can you describe a highlight of your experience at Abbey Road Institute?

We had a range of incredible guest lecturers such as Ken Scott and Steve Lillywhite. We also had lectures in Abbey Road Studios with Alan Parsons and John Dunkerley! I think it would be impossible to pick one that stood out above the others but it was fascinating how all of these people had become so successful in the industry even though many of them had completely different approaches about how much should be created!

What’s your favourite thing about studying in London?

I love the music scene in London! There are always so many gigs around the city which have such talented people and allows me to experience the global music scene on my doorstep. Hearing a range of genres has inspired me to inject this influence into my study, compositions and performance.

Do you think the course was valuable? What is it worth doing?

I loved the course! I think it was perfect for me! The idea of studying with a group of people that really wanted to be there, I believe inspired all of us to keep concentrating when we studied particularly difficult topics.

We had some great lecturers that had a lot of experience in the industry and stories which they were only too happy to share! In my opinion the only aspect which might benefit from improvement is how particular lecturers might convey their knowledge and teach the syllabus.

What would you say are the 3 most important things you learnt at Abbey Road Institute?

When we were given projects of a time controlled exam, it would sometimes feel as though we had not been given enough time to complete them. However when we started working in our studio and bringing our own artists in to record, it became clear that the turn around time they expected was similar to what we had been learning to do!

Aside from the speed there was also the need to be precise! In a session there isn’t any time to make mistakes which can often happen if you are trying to be quick as it’s easy to get flustered!

One of the most important things in a session is creating a vibe and handling the situation. If the feel of the session isn’t right, it can often be reflected in the music created. Grabbing a coffee and having a 5 minute break can diffuse any tension that might have built up!

What’s next for you? What are you doing now and what are your ambitions for the future?

I am currently working part-time on reception at Abbey Road Studios.

I am still working on writing my own music but I have decided I want to work more in the business and management side of the industry. Whilst I still want to be involved in the creative side, I love interacting with people and building relationships which will hopefully lead to exciting and innovative things!

Apply to join our next course

You can find out more and make your application to the Advanced Diploma in Music Production here. Application will be closing in early February for our next intake. If you would like to ask about the course and how to apply please get in touch.