Get to Know Sam McGuire
Keen to give students a cross-cultural experience like the one he experienced as a student, Professor Sam McGuire leads the study abroad trip to Prague.Megan Briggs | College of Arts & Media Jan 25, 2022
Professor Sam McGuire was a serious tuba player in his younger years, but switched career paths to audio engineering while he was in college. “It was more fulfilling to work with recording musicians than to spend hours and hours practicing,” McGuire admits. Originally from Michigan, McGuire moved to Colorado in 2003 to pursue a graduate degree in the Recording Arts from CU Denver’s College of Arts & Media (CAM). In 2006, McGuire joined the faculty of the college, where he teaches students the craft of recording arts. For McGuire, the students are his favorite element of CAM. “We have the most inspired students who are hardworking, appreciate what it means to be in the creative industries, and who are willing to put themselves out there to live their dreams. Nobody is taking this opportunity for granted in CAM,” McGuire says.
1. During your years at CAM, what is something you have been surprised to learn from a student (or students)?
I am always surprised at the efforts our students go through to make it through their degree programs. Many of them are paying for this on their own and are working multiple jobs to cover tuition. That kind of drive and self-motivation is priceless and means they come to learn and want to walk away being prepared for the industry.
I tell prospective students that they shouldn't come to CAM to learn how to be an artist/musician/filmmaker. They can watch YouTube videos and learn everything they need to know to do the basics. Instead, come to CAM for the people. You're going to meet amazing peers and mentors who will become as important to you as your immediate family. I know faculty members who would do anything for their students, and I know students who have met lifelong friends and collaborators. Of course, you'll learn everything you need to know, but more importantly you'll gain the most important network along the way.
2. In addition to teaching, you also compose and produce music. How does your teaching inform the music you make?
It's a symbiotic relationship; one can't exist without the other. I'm always trying to improve what I bring to the classroom and adapt to what my students are looking to find. The last two years have been really difficult and making music saved a lot of people, including myself.
3. Tell us about the research you conduct. What is your research used for? Which industries does it serve?
My primary area of research right now involves the creation of Impulse Responses, which is a method of capturing the sonic imprint of a specific space and then using it in software to put any sound or instrument in that same location. I am working in the realm of immersive 360º sound and trying to accurately capture spaces around the world. The results can be used in immersive music, post-production, and video games. I'm looking for the heart of the spaces to see why they are important to people and to explore why people keep using them. I've been working in a cathedral in Czechia which has been actively used for over 600 years. What is it that keeps people coming back?
4. You lead the study abroad program to the Czech Republic. Why do you feel this part of the world is a relevant place for students studying recording arts? What is your personal experience with Prague as an artist?
I took a few years off during college to live with Czechs, to teach English, and learn about their culture as a service missionary. I think everyone should travel abroad at some point in their lives and there's no better time than as a student. It broadens your perspective, makes the world seem like a more accessible place, and deepens every aspect of your art. On our trips in 2019 and 2021 (virtual) we recorded Czech musicians and explored their amazing culture. The students that participated will tell you it changed their lives, and it changes mine every time I go back. The new CAM initiatives in south Asia should also be on the minds of every student; I've spent a lot of time in China and every student who goes on those trips will have an amazing journey!
5. Do you have any rituals or rhythms you employ to get into a creative state of mind? What is the creative process like for you?
Pen and paper... I love technology and I use it for everything except for being creative. For that I must write it down.