Back to class: Studio Recording 1

Number of the four songs I’m supposed to complete by the time my online sync songwriting class ends this month: 0.

So far I’ve written two songs specifically with sync in mind: “Our Home” and “Take a Step.” I’ve performed both in my songwriting workshop and both times the feedback was that the songs sound like they’d be a good fit in commercials or on a TV show. (Without me announcing that that’s what my intention was.) So I felt like I was on the right track. I also performed both songs at this year’s Annual Songwriting Gathering. I performed standing up this year, which was a goal of mine, but still didn’t quite hit all the notes, especially in “Take a Step.” Fortunately it’s a supportive crowd and they don’t throw tomatoes, they just politely clap.

By the time I built up the courage to submit “Our Home” as a work tape for the online course, the announcement came that they will no longer be accepting work tapes for submission, as everyone should be in the production phase by that time. I wasn’t.

I did contact one producer in my cohort to see if she’d be interested in working on it, but she said she was already working on too many projects and I haven’t contact anyone else yet. I feel like the majority of the people were already longtime musicians and I’m just out of my league as a beginner. But I’ve learned so much in the course and want to continue on that path, even though I’m running behind in the course.

In December, I got an iPad so I could see what Garage Band was about. I learned the very basics through YouTube videos and started playing around with it. My younger sons each wrote a song the first week, having fun with all the different loops. I’m still discovering how to translate the songs in my head to Garage Band.

A few weeks ago, I thought I’d check the latest offerings at the local community college to see if there were any new music classes that might fit into my schedule. Starting the next week was “Studio Music Recording 1.”

I took this as a sign of fate and signed up.

The first day was the same day I was supposed to play in the local songwriting gathering so I needed to leave early (and I felt like kind of a dork for walking into the first class with my guitar but fortunately I was able to quietly set it by the door as I walked in).

Today was the third class. I’ve been learning about balanced cables, headroom and patch bays. Some of the articles I’ve read sound like they were written in a foreign language, but I’m certain that as the class progresses, the vocabulary will start to make sense. We’ve already had an introduction to ProTools and I’m looking forward to exploring that more.

During today’s class, we had an opportunity to participate in the Phoenix Synthesizer Festival being held on the college campus. For the last hour of class, we got to learn a little bit about synthesizers from people who are passionate about them, including Steve Roach, who is considered a pioneer in the evolution of ambient/electronic music. I hadn’t heard of him before but he performed in concert the evening before and was nominated for Grammy Awards twice. I learned later that his career spans four decades and includes nearly 200 releases.

We stood on the stage with him and from some of the other people standing nearby, I got the sense that he is a very big deal in the synthesizer world. The sounds were pretty amazing, almost hypnotizing. He also played a didgeridoo, a wind instrument that he said he learned from the Australia Aboriginal people.

He explained that when he first started in this field, it was fairly new and people thought it was unusual, but he was fascinated by it and persevered. I was moved about how intensely he spoke about his passion for sound and how he uses it to connect with others.

Although I wish I were further along in my class – and in my musical progression – if I keep growing and learning, that’s progress in itself, right?


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