Making Music at Home – Course Contents

You have the voice. You have the ideas. You’ve heard that everything that used to be done in a recording studio can now be done at home. But where to start?! Well, in this effective seminar and workshop day we de-clutter and de-jargon everything. We give you all of the essential knowledge and the skills you need to be able to make music at home.

A full and interesting day

For a one day course, we really get through a lot! Our objective is to have you leave with a good awareness of what technology is available to you in making music at home and a working knowledge of how to use Digital Audio Workstation software to create your own music.

9:00 am: A brief history of music production

LectureThe day begins with a retrospective look at how music production, and what it requires, has changed since the 1970s (and before). We review some of the earliest synthesizers and see how the technology developed, then examine the difference between analogue and digital technologies and look at how it came about that some classic instruments and many studio hardware devices are now available to you in software.

10:00 am: Understanding the technology

We then proceed to an examination of all of the equipment typically used to make music at home, beginning by explaining what kind of computer you’re going to need – Mac or PC – laptop or desktop – and recommending the amount of memory and the hard disk capacity you’re likely to need.
From here, we go on to review and explain different types of headphones available on the market. We look at the pros and cons of each for audio production and explain which are typically used in studios, passing around some monitoring headphones for you to examine and test.
There then follows a brief look at the different types of instrument you might wish to record – from flutes to drums, from electric guitars to synthesizers, and we explain how you can approach this.
Audio interfaceAudio interface
Next is a full explanation of what a computer audio interface is, and why you may need one in order to make music on your computer. We give examples of the kinds of audio interface that are available on the market and recommend which would be suitable for your needs.
Following this we review the different kinds of microphone on the marketplace, weigh up the pros and cons and make recommendations regarding which kinds would be appropriate for you in your aim of making music in a home-based studio.
MIDIMIDI interface
MIDI is an integral part of computer audio so next we explain what it is and clarify the role of MIDI interfaces, looking at what hardware is available to you. Later on the in course, when you start making music, you’ll use MIDI a lot more.
KeyboardMIDI keyboard
Leading straight on from MIDI is a look at the concept of a MIDI keyboard. We show you why they are important, how they are connected, what they can do, and the different types available.
Having examined headphones earlier we now turn our attention to speakers, or monitors. Are they essential for music production? We find out and again provide impartial product recommendations.
Pop shieldPeripherals
There are a number of peripheral devices that can be useful in a home studio. We introduce you to these, look at how they are used and what kind of prices you might expect to pay.
Last, but certainly not least, our aim is to familiarise you with what a Digital Audio Workstation is and we look at five of the leading products. You’ll be spending a lot of time using one of these during the next part of the course!

1:00 pm: Lunch is served!

We do have a morning and an afternoon break during which tea and coffee are provided, but around 1pm it’s lunchtime! Plenty of sandwiches are provided for everyone. Mingle and chat or do your own thing during this hour – there are no obligations.

2:00 pm: Making a track

Track HeadersIn the afternoon session the work really begins – but so does the fun! During the whole afternoon you construct a track using a typical introductory DAW – in this case Apple’s GarageBand™. After a full tour of the interface, you learn how to use the loop browser, the difference between synths and samples, and you create and edit MIDI data. This is only the start. You also get to see how an external instrument should be recorded into the program, how to use vocal samples, apply and edit effects, use third party instruments and much more!

6:00 pm: Wrapping up

By this time you have a complete commercial-standard track, crafted by you and exported as an MP3. We re-cap on all of the most important points from the day and you’re presented with a personalised Certificate of Completion and a USB key containing your files.