Listening Past the Giggles and Glitches

As technology advances, I find myself losing patience with things that not too long ago worked really well but now have problems. This is especially true when it involves work.

One of the things we do at the school where I work is record our own parts for the listening portion of the final exams. This is a process that’s changed since I’ve been at the school.

It used to involve headphones, a four channel mixer and cassette tapes. That system required long recording sessions in which every word had to be perfect. If we made one mistake we’d have to do the entire section over. I remember more than once reaching the very last question and then mumbling or stumbling or forgetting how to read English and having to start the entire process over.

One of our number had a habit of improvising off script leaving the rest of us to wonder where the hell we were and what the hell we were supposed to say next.

If anyone got the giggles the entire process ground to a halt.

Note: if you’ve never had the giggles, you’ve never experienced the joy of trying cure them by reciting sad images like “dead puppies; cats squished by cars; starving children eating dirt” and instead causing the entire room start laughing and be unable to stop. That’s great.

I guess you had to be there.

Nerves frayed and we quickly learned to make listening sections shorter.

That gave way to a nice recording studio in the sound and light booth of the school auditorium. We had good mics and proper equipment and if we made a mistake, we just redid the bad part and spliced the new part in later.

The new studio, however, didn’t solve the problem of the giggles. One teacher usually had to leave the room when another teacher made a “BEEEEEP” sound or the recording session couldn’t be finished. One time a teacher had funny names in the listening and we laughed so hard he ended up changing the names.

The other problem was that right around December exams, students start practicing for the Christmas show in the auditorium and we end up having to come back another day.

The new school, however, was supposed to solve this with a brand new, sound proof recording studio. Unfortunately, it’s the old computers and, for some reason, the old computer doesn’t like the new room and has decided to add a buzz to all our recordings. (Old computers can be really temperamental that way.)

There’s a way to fix it, but it adds a step that shouldn’t be necessary. I actually found myself getting annoyed about that. Then it brought hope that a new computer will appear some day with a quieter fan.

There’s also no cure for the giggles, though. Technology can’t solve those. Even dead puppies don’t help.

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