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Music Production Course

PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS COURSE IS TENTATIVE AT THE MOMENT

We may be opting to offer this course as a series of videos, in order to cut costs and make it more convenient for people to avail themselves of it. We'll keep you posted!

Ever wanted to start your own home studio but you don't know where to start? Our Music Production Course will prepare you and save you loads of time by teaching you all of the basics you'll need to know. Our ten week course runs two hours per private session, and you'll graduate with a diploma once you succesfully pass final testing. We take decades of recording experience and condense it to share with you over the ten weeks. The result is you will have skills and valuable shortcuts that will put you ahead of the game. Our fee is just $750 for the entire course, compared to College Courses charging upwards of $5,000 or distracting classroom courses offered by studios for about $1000. It works out to $37.50 per hour, which is less than the $40 to $60 per hour which many people pay for private guitar lessons. Our course is broken down into the following 2 hour segments, providing plenty of one-on-one time.

The only requirements are that you have a basic understanding of music, perhaps as a musician, and that you own a desktop or laptop computer so that you can put into practice what the course offers.

This one-on-one course does NOT provide specific hardware or software instruction. "I have a MacBook Pro running Ableton Live 11, but don't have a clue how to use it". Sorry, this course provides general information that is common across many platforms, but again, we do not teach any specific software. (We use Cakewalk by Bandlab, because it's full-featured and best of all, FREE)

1 - Recording Digital Audio

Learn the basics of recording high-quality audio using a simple laptop or desktop computer. Discover what a DAW is and how to use one. Explore types of input devices, such as USB microphones, mixing consoles, etc. We'll teach you microphone placement for optimum recording. Learn about recording in mono or stereo, or using multi-channel sound cards to record many channels at one time. We'll also discuss basic budgets to get started, based on your expectations. This class will prepare you, by giving you a better understanding of how audio gets to the computer, recorded to the hard drive, and able to be played back while other tracks are added to the mix. With a modest investment, you'll be able to record multiple tracks of audio, such as the various instruments heard in a piece of music.

2 - Laying Down Some Tracks

In this session, you'll learn the basics of recording multiple tracks of digital audio. We'll provide some digital drums, bass, and keyboards which you will record. We'll also learn about the stereo field, and how to pan tracks, and how to fatten up mono tracks, and place stereo tracks. We'll begin the study of digital plugins by adding compression and equalization to our basic tracks. Equalization, or EQ, is extremely important in creating a mix that is clear and where every track may be heard. Compression keeps each track sounding loud and clear, as it reduces the loud spikes and boosts the low volume parts. We'll also show you how to double a mono track to give it life by moving the duplicate track slightly ahead or behind in time. The result may amaze you. We'll teach you how these techniques are done, and help train your ears so you can do it on your own.

3 - Reverb and Delay

This session will deal with reverb and delay. Too often, reverb is over-used, but we'll teach you how to use is sparingly for very nice results. We'll add a vocal track to your previous mix, and show you how much or how little reverb is best, and how to alter the reverb characteristics. We'll discuss delay and show you how it may be added for special emphasis in portions of a track. More will be taught on setting delay time and regeneration. We'll go over a few of the more popular reverb and delay plugins as well, showing you how you may change the settings for optimum results. Lastly, we'll look at combination delay/reverb plugins and how they work to give your tracks something special, as well as all-in-one vocal processors that add delay, reverb, compression and EQ, all in the one plugin. Although it's a quick and easy way to achieve a great sound, we prefer those effects as individual plugins, as there is more control over the final sound that way.

4 - Other Plugins

In this session, we'll explore some of the many other plugins available to just about any DAW you choose to use. One of these is auto-tune, a very popular and often mis-used plugin that will bring an off-key voice onto pitch. We'll show you how to correctly use it, and to have the effect set to be working, yet not too obvious. We'll look at auto-panners, and the multitude of other plugins that do everything from crushing the bit-rate, to riding a bass level to keep it stable. We'll also show you the basics for each track, such as specific plugins for drums or for bass. Lastly, we'll explore more of the vocal plugins, specifically ones that change pitch or create harmony voices or even whispers. This session will prepare you to be able to do just about anything with a mix, but we also want you to be tasteful and not gimmicky, because the temptation is there to over-use plugins.

5 - Importing Tracks

There are libraries of sounds available that you might use in your productions. We'll show you how to import a track and how and when it might make sense to use it in a song you are recording. These may be sounds that would be difficult to record, such as sound effects or actual sounds, such as a police siren or a dog barking. They can add color and mood to a song. They can also be integral components such as a sudden rise in sounds, or a descending bass note. Once more, such effects ought to be used sparingly, but they can add color and dimension to an otherwise ordinary recording. We'll also show you how to take a snippet of one of your tracks and use it to create backwards reverb or delay. It is a very unique and cool effect, also requiring a mini-mixdown of the portion you wish to use, then importing it as you would a stock audio clip. The results might surprise you.

From a Client

"I plan on taking this course as soon as it becomes available. I record with my phone and a laptop, but want to step things up so that my recordings will sound professional without me spending a fortune. "
Coming Soon

6 - Automation

Elements of recording may be automated, thanks to modern DAWs. We'll teach you how to fade out a track by automating a volume slider and recording the movement. We will also cover automating paning of a track from one side to the other, and show you the tricks and techniques used to automate tracks in a larger studio. Lastly, we'll automate some elements of plugins, such as EQ, reverb or delay. We can even automate what notes are played back by a harmonizer plugin. Once more, this technique has its place, but shouldn't be overdone. Your ears ought to be developing by now, so you'll just know if something sounds good or not. This is one of the advantages of such a course, your ears will improve on what they are hearing, and what sounds good and what doesn't. With automation, we can help you create tracks that you'll be proud of.

7 - The Mixdown - Basics

You've been working with multiple tracks, or 'layers' of sound. You are still able to adjust each one, but nobody else will be able to hear your work unless you mix it down into a format they can play, such as an MP3. But once it's mixed down to a stereo track, you no longer can adjust individual elements, so the desired outcome is to mix it down just right. We'll show you how a DAW enables you to mix down to stereo, usually in wav or MP3 formats. Once mixed down, the MP3 file may be shared or added to a music library. But there is more to mixing down that just the basics. Sometimes when individual tracks are combined into a stereo mix, we lose some of the instruments. A piano and guitar track may sound similar, no longer as identifiable as they were before. They may be lost in the mix, or sound like mush. This is a common result when mixing down a basic track.

8 - The Mixdown - Advanced

In this session, we'll listen to a mix and analyze it to see if we hear any problems. Suppose a piano and guitar are not as clear as they were before we mixed things down. We can use stereo panning to separate them in the stereo field, but this will only solve part of the problem. The rest can be fixed by using EQ. The problem arises when two tracks want to maximize the same frequencies. The way to fix it is to assign different frequencies to each track. You simple remove certain frequencies from the one track, and keep them in the other track. That way, each track has their own range of frequencies and will now sound unique from one another. The problem is that this will happen to a degree with almost every track on your recording. Is the kick drum and the bass hogging the same frequency? What about vocals and keyboards? We'll show you how to keep everything separate from one another, resulting in a clear mix where you can hear each part.

9 - Cleaning Up The Mix

Although the days of tape hiss are long gone, we still need to clean up tracks in an effort to maintain a quiet final mix. Suppose you have three tracks with compression, all fading out together. As the instrument sound fades, the compressor tries to boost the quiet signal, and results in boosting background sound, digital hiss, etc. Now, with three tracks, the noise is three times as bad. There are ways to get around this, in this case, to fade the tracks along with the effects, so you wind up with no sound at all. In addition to the 'silence' not really being silent, another problem is when too many tracks are using a high frequency in the EQing, so that a different kind of hiss or whine may be heard. The solution may be simply to lower the high frequencies on these tracks to eliminate the problem. The same might be said for bleed, those sounds that get picked up by mistake. If you have multi-track vocals, and the vocal mike picked up background music, it would be wise to silence that background when the vocals aren't being sung. Remember, each track that has the same noise will multiply that noise. We will show you how to clean things up.

10 - Mastering the Mix

Mastering requires a critical ear, and the tools to make the track as loud as possible without losing too many dynamics. It is also an opportunity to give the final mix some added equalization to bring out or surpress whatever frequencies might benefit from EQ. Another purpose of mastering is to ensure every track on a collection of songs has the same level, and similar tonal qualities. For example, if a track starts up and is quieter than the previous track, or has less bass, it is a chance to fix it without having to re-mix the whole thing. Compression is used on the final mix to ensure it is as loud as possible, with the quieter parts boosted, and the loud peaks leveled off. The danger here is over-producing the track so that dynamics become lost. If a collection of songs, fading out is also performed at the mastering stage. Mastering software exists which makes the process easier.

Cost

Total course fee: (payable in advance)$750.00
or, pay by installments: (each payable in advance)Three payments of $265.00
Payments may be made by cash or e-transfer.

Your course fee must be prepaid in full before we schedule you to a time. (unless paying by installments) If paying by installments, the first two payments will cover three weeks each, and the final one for the final four weeks. We must receive your payments in time to keep to the schedule we have set up with you for weekly sessions. (We are not doing semesters with gaps between, so payments must be on time.)

We will work with you to choose a convenient sesion time that will be the same each week, preferably on weekdays. We ask that you give us plenty of notice if you are unable to attend a scheduled session, and we'll reschedule quickly so that you don't miss anything. We request that rescheduling is limited to emergencies, bad weather, etc. and used sparingly. If you are a no-show, you will forfeit a session, so please call ahead if you will be late or absent.