Otto, better known as “Super Otto” or “Super” by his students, took a few minutes to reflect on his winning of the award and what keeps him going strong into 2013 and beyond.
Super currently teaches courses in Logic Pro and Pro Tools and enrollment for his Winter quarter class is available here.
What made you want to go into your field of expertise?
Let me answer this with a couple of stories who changed my life: Almost 30 years ago , I was 12 years old when my music teacher brought one of the first Apple computers, the “Apple II” and a music keyboard with the MIDI interface. I remember the teacher transferring a sound from the keyboard to the computer, manipulating the sound and sending it back to the keyboard. Nothing fancy considering the limits of technology of the day. It was enough for me though as it was a true love at the first sight! My music teacher and I connected again a couple years later and I was invited in his recording studio, where I had a chance to see my first console mixer (I believe it was a SoundCraft) many different types of keyboards, output gears and sequencers. One day he asked me if I wanted to borrow with the Apple II he had brought to the classroom and left it to me for about a month. What a great month! It was during this period when I realized that I wanted to make music professionally using computers. If we consider those two stories, two important ingredients needed to cook my “pie”. I’d also like to add is that my passion for music and love for people played huge factors in my decision to get into the music field.
What work influenced you most during your professional development?
Every single gig influenced me during my career. I started touring with my bands back in 1989 and in 1992, I wrote techno/house this is when I learned a lot about people and their relation to music. Subsequently, I was very lucky to team up with a very famous contemporary composer in Italy named M.o. Roberto Cacciapaglia. In collaboration with him, I had a chance to work on a couple of his albums, touring the country and playing with fantastic and famous musicians while co-&-writing almost 100 commercials. This was my education. In addition I also worked on more than 1500 episodes on stage/on air, as keyboard player, arranger, co-&-conductor on TV shows for the most respected Italian TV networks, Mediaset and Rai. I learned how to get things done in a very short time and meeting demanding deadlines! In all honesty, every gig I’ve had since I moving to the United States in 2007-2008 made me better: The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, Paramount Pictures, Musicians Institute, UCLA, and my recent collaborations with James Valentine and Jesse Carmichael from Maroon 5. These all helped my professional development. The fact is, I still consider myself a “student” so every work I do helps and influences me in any way!
What inspires you to continue to provide excellent instruction to your students?
I truly love teaching and helping people. I think I was born that way. I always meet people who are so inspired, talented or skilled that I can take something from them, too. Seeing students being successful makes me truly happy. Last week I bumped into one of my former students from UCLA Extension and he handed me his first record he produced and released and he thanked me for have been helping him to get to that point. That just made my day. Doing my job in the studio every day, working recognizable names in the industry that are willing share inspires me but what inspires me most after almost 30 years, is the passion I have and will always have for music, technology, and students. I must also recognize another important inspiring aspect of my life: almost 3 years ago I became a father and having this beautiful creature with my wonderful wife, being in a great family inspires me every day.
Can you compare how feel now compared to your first class that you taught?
I do remember very well the first class I taught. I was in Milano and even if I got a wonderful training from Apple from an awesome mentor, Phil Ehrart, who influenced me greatly, I felt like I was on stage (as a musician) for the first time. As soon as I started with the first topic of class, which was Logic Pro, I felt good and I loved seeing my students enjoying every minute. I also remember one of the first classes I taught here in the States. Actually that week I had a class on Soundtrack Pro and I was voiceless and the 3 days after I had to teach another class at UCLA Extension. Don’t ask me how, but I was b able to wrap the whole week up, despite being without a voice. All that said, after almost 300 hundreds lectures and more than 3000 students, and to cap it off with this wonderful “Outstanding Instructor Award”, I believe my best classes are yet to come. In fact, I always strive to improve each and every quarter.
What does winning the 2012 Outstanding Instructor Award mean to you?
This award means the world to me and I couldn’t be happier! I should admit I was a bit stunned when I learned about my nomination. In all honestly, I feel that other instructors were worthy of this award. Since my days in Italy when I was a student in college, I was thinking about UCLA and their wonderful campus. Receiving this award today is still hard to believe but on the other hand, I have been working so hard since I started to teach so it feels immensely rewarding to be appreciated for my efforts!