This class is for high school students at Winnebago Lutheran Academy who want to learn how to make music on computers. We use Audacity and Garageband as our main tools, and we have fun almost every single day figuring out how to make music using audio and MIDI, but we also learn how to record vocals and instruments and even play guitar and drums if we need to.
We keep personal blogs (look on the right column of this page and click on our names) to help us remember what we've been working on, keep track of the all the decisions that we've made on our projects, and to share with our family and friends the music that we've created.
Each semester I start with a project in which we take a full length song and cut it down to around 30 seconds. The program that we use to do this at first is Audacity, which is a free (emphasis on FREE!), cross-platform audio editor and recorder. The reason I teach my students how to use Audacity is because they can download the same program on their home computers and either do class work at home or they can use it for other audio projects.
One of my students told me yesterday that he was going to be out for a couple of days while his wisdom teeth were pulled. So, I told him I'd write a blog about our Audacity project so he'd be able to keep up on his Music Tech work while recovering at home. Erik, this one's for you!
Follow the instructions on the Dance Project 1 document starting at #3.
After finishing the project and exporting the file as a WAV, email it to me so I can check your work.
Why do I teach this lesson? It started out as a way to lighten my work load around homecoming time. Many times the dance team or the cheerleaders would come to me asking for my help in putting the music together for their homecoming routines. I'd spend many hours doing this work, sometimes changing the cuts ten or more times right up until the performance. So, I wanted my Music Tech students to know how to manipulate audio so they could do this work for me.
Now that I've taught this lesson for a couple of years, I'm starting to see other applications of cutting audio. Listen to the background music in commercials. Many times you will recognize the piece of music, but it has been cut down to 30 seconds or less to fit the time slot of the commercial. That's going to be the next adaptation of this lesson: Cutting Music for Commercials.
Dale Witte is the choir director and music technology teacher at Winnebago Lutheran Academy, Fond du Lac, WI. He has been teaching since January 1990 and really enjoys teaching students how God's gift of music works. Dale is also a church organist, piano player, violinist, and church music composer.