Keeping it Reel

5 Ways to Improve Your Sound Skills Right Now

You never walk around without a pair of earbuds. When you watch movies, the soundtrack is one of the key things you pay attention to. During animated films, the only thing you can focus on is guessing the voice actors playing each character.

You love sound. You’re fascinated by it; so much so that you think you might want to pursue a career in it. The problem? You don’t exactly know how to pursue sound right now. There aren’t exactly courses for it at your high school, so what steps are you supposed to take? How can you practice right now?

Well, sometimes the best way to prepare for your future is to take small steps every day. You don’t have to take some fancy class or buy some expensive sound equipment to practice right now. A few little things can actually help you in a huge way. Let me show you what I mean.


1. Watch Movies on Mute

If you want to pursue a career in sound, you need to appreciate the effect sound can have on an image or scene. For example, have you seen this video? It’s a little drastic, but I think it proves a point. With ill-fitting sound or music, a movie scene can have an entirely different effect.

When you watch movies on mute, you a have the opportunity to explore your imagination. Instead of having the sound provided for you, you can scan your brain for the perfect accompanying sounds. This is the type of practice you can do weekly, for no cost, and by yourself. It is a great creative exercise that will prepare you for later projects.

Experiment with Foley

If you aren’t familiar with the word “foley,” it is the process of creating or altering sound for a film or video. When you are watching a movie, and you hear thunder crashing, a door creaking, or a person walking you are enjoying the work of a foley artist. All of the sounds you experience have to come from somewhere. And while it is true that many sounds are now engineered, foley artists are still critical to movie production and will be until industry technology can match their skill.

So how can you experiment with foley? Make a list fo a few different noises or sounds that you find interesting and try to replicate them. It is as simple as that! If you want a little more direction, pick a scene from a movie that has a good amount of sound effects, and try to pinpoint and create your own version of each sound.

Dive into a Sound Project

Nothing beats experience. If you can get your hands on some equipment and work on the sound for a video or film project, do it. Perform to the best of your ability, but don’t stress the quality of your work too much. You are just starting out; it is going to take awhile before you know enough to make something that resembles professional work.

If you don’t know where to start, explore these links:

Research the Science of Sound

There are technical and creative aspects of just about every field out there, and sound is no different. Pick up a book on acoustics or audio electronics. Try to gain some insight into how sound travels. What makes a sound Hard? Soft? Sharp? Dull? How does different equipment work? Knowing these things will give you an advantage when you start your official education. You’ll be able to focus on applying what you know, instead of going through the steps of learning the basics.

Expand Your Music Tastes

From Death Metal to Show Tunes, every type of music is used in film. You never know when you might need to pull a good sound clip out of thin air. The more music you know, the easier this will be. So listen to every type of music possible, learn to appreciate different sounds and techniques, and think about the emotions that are conveyed through various genres. Make a habit out of memorizing the names of specific artists and songs, and try to categorize them by the thoughts and feelings they evoke. If you do this, you’ll spend a whole let less time searching for that perfect song or sound, you’ll already know it.


Sound can seem like an obscure field to jump into, but it is insanely important to the success of a film. If you follow these tips, you’ll be on your way to building a unique set of skills that will help you take your future projects to the next level.

If you’re ready to start learning a little more about sound, download our Film Career Guide below to see a what careers an education in film could lead to!

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