Zurich University of the Arts
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Zurich University of the Arts: Where students become artistic and creative experts

A few years ago, Patrycja Pakiela made the best decision for her future. She chose to study at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). Although Pakiela liked that it’s located in a cultural hub in Europe, she liked it more for its offerings that would help her become the flutist she wants to be.

“It was important to me to study in the class where I felt right with the direction of teaching and I was searching for that,” she says. “I came for a masterclass to listen to the students and get to know the teacher. That is how I realised ZHdK would be a dream place to study for me.”

Patrycja Pakiela

Since then, she has not looked back. Pakiela went on study with one of the world’s most versatile and innovative flutists Matthias Ziegler. “Later on as the university helped me to develop my path as a musician and encouraged to discover new directions, I decided to start the MA in Sound Design and broaden my horizons,” she says.

ZHdK is one of the leading art universities in Europe. It offers an extensive range of both bachelor’s and master’s programmes. Here, music studies are lively, international and multi-talented: Jazz and Pop, Church Music, Composition / Theory / Music Technology, Music Pedagogy as well as Performance / Interpretation. All programmes combine a curriculum tailored to personal aspirations, mentorship and state-of-the-art and professionally equipped studios and workshops.

It was a no-brainer for Pakiela to stay with ZHdK. With an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach towards the arts, the MA Sound Design offers musicians a chance to broaden their horizons and discover new directions.

Pakiela used this opportunity to collaborate and exchange ideas with other sound artists. “As a musician, I had a chance to try to create sounds for other media but I wanted to deepen my knowledge in that area, discover new paths and processes, exchange with other sound artists and receive mentoring from renowned professors,” she says.

Basic subjects cover aural training and analysis for film and sound technology as well as linear and interactive sound design, to name a few. Additional courses include set and foley sound recording, sound editing and mixing, audio programming (e.g. Max, FMOD Studio), sound scenography and sonic interaction design. These hands-on courses are complemented by modules such as sound studies and audio research, and an offering in entrepreneurship supports students in establishing themselves in the field.

Top-notch facilities and world-renowned faculty staff

With an interdisciplinary and hands-on approach towards the arts, the programme offers musicians a chance to broaden their horizons and discover new directions. Source: Zurich University of the Arts

Pakiela learned a lot from her professors. “Manuel Gerber brought strong expertise about sound for film. While Olav Lervik was a great support in storytelling with sound for media,” she shares.

What’s more, with impressive infrastructure and industry-level facilities such as the Dolby Studio and ICST Lab, curious musicians like Pakiela are given the creative space to explore and grow in any direction they would like to develop. “As I was interested in film, the Dolby Studio was a highlight. Not many universities can provide a Dolby Atmos studio where you can mix your film and music compositions in the Atmos format from an early stage of studies,” she says.

Paving the path to a lucrative career 

Pakiela scored an internship in a company working with VR and Game Engines where she gained insight into Sound Design. Here, she was able to put her newfound skills and knowledge from ZHdK into immediate practice.

“I am very grateful for the insight into the industry of film and games. I now know how to use software needed in the industry and the required processes and workflows,” she reflects. “I think the Sound Design studies helped me gain knowledge in working with sound for various media on the professional level. I was able to touch the areas of Sound for Film, Game and Theatre which were very interesting for me and it has helped me focus on the directions most appealing to me.”

Pakiela went on to work at the same company, creating solutions for VR simulations with sound. Apart from that, Pakiela is also supporting the MA Sound Design programme, by tutoring the course in Sound Editing.

When asked how ZHdK prepared her for her current career, Pakiela boasts the “learning by doing” approach and projects that meet industry standards. “The projects have made a big impact on the way I could start my work in the industry after finishing my studies,” she says.

Inspired by Pakiela’s story? You can also seek a multi-layered and multi-disciplinary master’s programme in Sound Design. Apply to Zurich University of the Arts today to enrich your musical journey.

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