who we are

About The Blackbird Academy

The Blackbird Academy was started in 2013 by recording and live sound engineer John McBride and his wife, country artist Martina McBride. They created Blackbird Studio in 2002, which has grown to be a top production stop for recording artists like Kings of Leon, Jack White, The Black Keys, Rush, Keith Urban, and many more.

When interviewing Blackbird Studio interns and employees, John would ask various questions about audio production, like “What is your favorite kick drum mic?” The answers revealed that many graduates of audio programs had little hands-on time in a recording studio.

Another question whose answer shocked him was, “How much did your education cost?” John quickly realized that not only did grads still have a lot to learn, but they often had tons of loans and student debt.

After talking about the ideas they had regarding audio education, John and Martina founded The Blackbird Academy. John hired Mark Rubel, Carma DiCianni, and Kevin Becka – longtime engineers, musicians, and educators, and the four of them went to work creating the program. The curriculum features Blackbird Studio’s gear and facilities for the Studio Program, and access to Clair Bros. massive warehouses of equipment and professional staff for the Live Sound Program.

A unique feature of The Blackbird Academy is the mentor-driven, experience-based education. Professional engineers and award-winning guest mentors teach the Blackbird Academy programs.

There is no substitute for learning hands-on, from the best professional instructors, in rooms and on gear used to make top quality music every day. The lessons learned at The Blackbird Academy will help you find work in an industry that is competitive, challenging, and rewarding.

Mentor U - Mix Magazine cover with BBA
our mission

100% Experience-Based Learning

The mission of The Blackbird Academy is to prepare students for careers in music production and live sound in the best possible way – via mentor-based training. There is a need for a new model in education that gives students access to true working professionals and hands-on experience using a world-class collection of gear in facilities designed for one purpose: making excellent music. The Blackbird Academy addresses these needs by providing a mentor-based program where students learn from a unique cast of professional instructors and award-winning guest lecturers.

Challenge and educate students by presenting them with real-life scenarios that an engineer would encounter on a regular basis.

Our campus builds on the foundation of Blackbird Studio, the Nashville home to a community of engineers, producers, musicians, and technical staff who have taken the art of audio recording to new highs. The principles and beliefs that guide the Academy’s programs are simple: Challenge and educate students by presenting them with real-life scenarios that an engineer would encounter. We believe training should take place in spaces that are not empty, cold classrooms but professionally designed studios, labs, and venues where engineers can hone their craft. Students should graduate with a high degree of both practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade, giving them the best opportunity to establish and build their careers.

Our goal is to provide the best education in the shortest amount of time for the least amount of money. Realize your potential by taking part in The Blackbird Academy experience!

our staff

The People Who Make It Happen

Click on the profile pictures to read more about us.