Making music is incredibly rewarding. You can tell your story in a million different creative ways, change moods, and create communities.
But—it’s difficult knowing where to start. Between theory and technology, it can be daunting taking the first step.
Today I'm going to highlight some resources in our collection, and a few from elsewhere, to help you get started on your music making journey.
Lynda for Libraries is a fantastic resource for learning technical skills, creative techniques, business strategies, and more. And it’s free to use with your library card!
But… personally, I get decision fatigue when I open it up. Even the menu just for Audio + Music classes has a maze of options!
So let’s cut a path through possibility and find our footing.
In my opinion, the best way to get started is by learning to use your voice. You don’t have to become an amazing singer to learn how to hear, understand, and create relationships between musical ideas. Plus, it’s the cheapest instrument you can get, and the easiest to take wherever you go.
There are two great Singing Lessons courses available—Fundamentals and Foundational Exercises. In Fundamentals you will learn the basics of your voice and some simple music language. Then, with Foundational Exercises you will start to practice one of the most vital skills for any musician: ear training.
Now that you have practiced with your voice*, you are more and more familiar with getting musical ideas out of your head. (*if you’re uncomfortable or unable to, feel free to just jump on here!)
I love the free Learning Music site from Ableton. The Learning Music interactive tool will teach you the basics of rhythm, melody, harmony right from any browser on a laptop/desktop or mobile device.
The best part of this tool is that it breaks down musical concepts in an intuitive way through popular songs like Daft Punk’s “Around The World,” Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love,” and Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It).”
A Little Bit Further Now…
Unfortunately, in modern music making there a seemingly endless number of paths. Do you want to learn classical piano, or how to make EDM? Are you a singer-songwriter, or a lofi hip-hop beatsmith?
To help you down this fork in the road, Lynda has a very cool feature called learning paths. These paths are curated sets of tutorials around a specific topic; everything from learning specific instruments, to making electronic music, to production audio for film & video gets a highlight.
💡Sampling the first lesson in each path can help you decide what interests you right now!
Boldly Going Beyond
So now you have the basics down and you’re getting a little dangerous. Here are some resources from our collection and other places that will help you take your music to the next level—which is mostly stealing like an artist by watching people good at their thing doing their thing.
Recording & Mixing
Help Me Devvon (YouTube channel) — this channel has high quality tutorials on mixing vocals and instrumentals, primarily focused on modern hip-hop and R&B but applicable for any genre of music.
Soundbreaking (DVD) — an eight-part PBS documentary that “traces this ongoing sonic revolution, and explores the nexus of cutting-edge technology and human artistry that has created the soundtrack of our lives.”
Andrew Huang (YouTube channel) — one of the most prolific and creative musicians on YouTube, Andrew is a partially deaf music producer whose videos cover everything from synthesizers to making music out of fireworks or pizza.
I Dream of Wires (streaming video) — a documentary about the rise, fall and rebirth of the machine that shaped electronic music: the modular synthesizer.
Film & Video Game Music
8-bit Music Theory (YouTube channel) — one of the best channels for video game music, 8bMT breaks down the theory behind popular modern and retro video game soundtracks.
Guy Michelmore (YouTube channel) — Guy Michelmore is an award-winning film, games and television composer whose videos provide insight into how a working artists approaches scoring. The live scoring demos playlist is my favorite.
Score: A FIlm Music Documentary (DVD) — this documentary features interviews with accomplished musicians and film composers like Quincy Jones, Mervyn Warren, and John Williams.