best courses for theatre sound training

As an experienced sound engineer with a passion for theatre and a deep expertise in theatre sound training, I understand the importance of continuous learning and professional development in this ever-evolving industry.

If you’re an aspiring sound technician or a seasoned professional looking to enhance your skills, investing in the right courses can make a world of difference.

In this article, I will share my top recommendations for the best courses that will equip you with the knowledge and practical insights needed to excel in theatre.

Theatre Sound Training: The 4 Best Courses

Below are my 4 top sound engineering courses for any sound students trying to get into theatre as a sound person.

Orbital Sound Logotraing plus logo

1. Orbital’s Training Plus

  • Oribtal’s Training Plus has several courses including Fringe Fundamentals For Sound, Sound for stage management training, and the very popular Mixing for Musicals.
  • Type of Course: Practical
  • 2 days

What to expect!

These courses go above and beyond your typical “this is how a mixing desk works” workshop. Students are taken on a comprehensive journey through every stage of the process, from the rehearsal room to setting up a desk in its base state. The course covers all the essential theories, introducing the importance of line-by-line mixing and the potential consequences of neglecting it.

A key highlight of these courses is the emphasis on hands-on experience. Students are given the valuable opportunity to visit the West End, where they gain an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at a real show in action and have the chance to engage in in-depth conversations with the show’s skilled team.

Held at a purpose-built training facility in Brixton, London, the course focuses on practical skills and the theory behind best-practice FOH mixing requirements for modern musicals. It offers a comprehensive range of tasks associated with operating excellence, covering everything from basic mixing theory to working with the latest digital mixing technology.

Aspiring engineers and enthusiasts seeking to take their mixing skills to new heights will find this course tailored to their needs. It’s an opportunity to excel in the world of musicals and leave a lasting impact through remarkable sound experiences.

Course content includes

  • Musical Theatre systems

  • Musical Theatre team roles and responsibility

  • Rehearsal notes and pre-plotting

  • Show control systems

  • Practical demonstration and practice of line-by-line mixing

  • Script breakdown and console programming

  • Scope and Recall safe setup

  • Handling mixing dynamics and balance

  • Practical time with hands on faders


guildhall logo

2. Guildhall school

  • This hands-on course will introduce you to the practical, creative, and technological aspects of sound design and management for the stage.
  • Type of Course: Practical
  • 5 days

What to expect!

The course covers the purpose and timeline of theatre sound through designing as well as an introduction to relevant software:

  • Software: QLab and Pro Tools
  • FX recording and editing
  • Aspects of Sound Design: atmospheres, spot FX, and reinforcement

This is a practical course during which you will create cues. The course will culminate in a live performance where you will be allowed to execute these.



royal logo

3. Royal Central

  • This full-time course explores the possibilities of one of the most rapidly evolving of the specialist theatre disciplines.
  • Type of Course: Practical
  • 3 years

What to expect!

Studying on the Theatre Sound specialism of the BA (Hons) Theatre Practice degree course, you will:

  • Learn the art of creating sonic worlds for drama and performance
  • Gain technical ability to control the sonic environment of live performance, underpinned by an understanding of relevant acoustic and electrical theory
  • Explore the possibilities of one of the most rapidly evolving of specialist theatre disciplines, working with tutors who are active professionals, and state-of-the-art equipment.


mountview logo


4. Mountview

  • Full-time course on sound design for plays and musicals
  • Type of Course: Practical
  • 3 years

What to expect!

  • Hands-on training with contemporary audio equipment
  • Studio skills including recording and editing technology and techniques
  • Understanding and designing audio systems
  • Rigging and balancing audio systems
  • Prepping, fitting, and monitoring radio mic systems
  • Programming and mixing industry-standard audio desks on plays and musicals
  • Networking, soldering, and other skills needed by the modern production professional
  • Audio design for plays and musicals (BA only)

But before I do, let’s have a quick insight into the fundamentals and mixing techniques needed for theatre sound.

The Fundamentals of Sound in Theatre

Theatre sound serves as the invisible hand that weaves emotions and ambiance into the fabric of a performance. It involves managing various aspects, including microphone placement, sound system configuration, and audio effects.

Understanding the acoustics of a theatre space and maintaining clear communication with the production team are crucial elements for success. Mastering the fundamentals lays a strong foundation for a career in theatre sound.

Line-by-line Mixing Techniques for Musical Theatre

a man mixing a show

Musicals present a unique challenge for sound designers and operators, as it involves handling multiple microphones and balancing intricate soundscapes.

What is Line-by-line mixing?

Line-by-line mixing refers to the real-time adjustment of audio levels, and other parameters during a live performance. It involves adjusting each element of the mix individually as it occurs, allowing the sound engineer to make on-the-fly changes to ensure an optimal and balanced mix. In other words, it’s when an operator fades up the mic when the actor speaks and fades down the mic when the actor stops speaking.

Line-by-line mixing is an art and an integral part that requires precision and finesse. From solo ballads to complex ensemble pieces, each performer’s voice must shine while blending harmoniously with others.

Moreover, the sound engineer must adapt to the dynamic energy of live performances, capturing every nuance without missing a beat.

The Importance of Proper Sound Training in Theatre

sound engineering courses

Elevating Production Arts with Expertise in Theatre Sound

In the world of production arts, the role of sound holds immense significance. West End designers and audio engineers are the magicians behind the scenes (or at least that’s what they think), orchestrating the auditory landscape that breathes life into every performance.

However, mastering the art of sound requires more than just a passion for audio and a great way with words; it demands a comprehensive understanding of audio design and technical expertise.

Empowering Sound Students with Practical Courses

For aspiring sound designers and technicians, embarking on this journey of can be both exciting and daunting. Proper tutoring bridges the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application.

Practical courses are the key to unlocking the full potential of students, equipping them with hands-on experiences and essential skills that go beyond textbooks and lectures.

Navigating the Technical Theatre Terrain

Theatre audio is a specialised domain within the vast realm of technical theatre. It involves navigating intricate setups, managing complex audio systems, and addressing technical challenges unique to live performances.

Adequate coaching provides professionals with the confidence and competence to handle the dynamic nature of live performance spaces, ensuring seamless audio delivery under any circumstance.

Mastering Key Concepts in Sound Design

Sound design is an art form that demands a profound understanding of various elements, such as soundscapes, ambiance, and emotional storytelling through audio. Proper instruction guides designers in crafting captivating auditory experiences that complement and enhance the visual spectacle on stage. From subtle cues to powerful effects, mastering key concepts is essential for creating impactful theatrical moments.

Short Courses for Quick Skill Enhancement

For industry professionals seeking to fine-tune their craft or stay up-to-date with the latest advancements, short courses like the one held at Orbital and Guildhall offer a practical and time-efficient solution.

These focused programs delve into specific aspects of theatre sound, allowing professionals to gain new insights and refine their expertise without committing to lengthy educational endeavors.

Amplifying Public Productions with Stellar Sound

The success of any theatrical production hinges on its ability to captivate audiences and evoke emotions. Sound plays a crucial role in this process, as it sets the mood, transports audiences to different worlds, and creates immersive experiences.

Proper education ensures that sound engineers can flawlessly integrate audio elements into the production, amplifying the impact of public performances.

Embracing the Challenges of Live Performances

Unlike studio recordings, live performances present unpredictable variables and time-sensitive scenarios. Sound professionals must be adaptable and quick-thinking, capable of handling unexpected situations with grace. Training imparts the ability to troubleshoot on the spot, making sound engineers indispensable assets during live performances.

Enriching Course Content for Comprehensive Learning

Reputable training programs encompass a diverse range of topics to offer a holistic learning experience. From technical know-how to creative exploration, these courses provide a balanced curriculum that caters to both the artistic and technical aspects of theatre sound.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about my 4 choices that will get you a head start in your theatre career.

Sound desk

Wrap Up

So as someone who has walked the path of a Head of Sound and who has taught thousands of people over the last 37 years, I can attest to the immense value of this type of training in honing your skills and advancing your career.

Each sound engineering course mentioned above offers unique insights and practical knowledge that will set you apart in this competitive industry.

However, if you are just starting out and looking to take your expertise to the next level, I would invest in Orbital’s Training Plus Course as it will undoubtedly pay off in the long run. If you are looking at how you can become a musical theatre sound engineer then check out my other posts.

So, there you have it, go take the leap and enroll in the best courses for sound training in theatre today! Your journey to becoming a master of theatrical sound awaits.

I’m glad I could assist in your journey to become a West End audio engineer and enter the world of technical theatre. Wishing you the best of luck! If you have any questions, feel free to reach out.