In New Zealand we now have the wonderful opportunity to teach recording and mixing skills to high school students. We have Unit Standards that allow us to assess and provide credits towards a course of work in the area of Performing Arts Technology and Music Technology.
However, these Unit Standards only tell us the ‘outcomes’, not the pathways teachers should follow to teach the students to the info and develop the skills.
For NZ teachers I’ve produced a series of resources (documents, tutorial videos, eBooks, assessment schedules, etc) that are written specifically for the NZ system (although the resources are generic enough to be of assistance to anyone wanting to learn about recording and mixing). These can all be found at www.learningideas.co.nz.
However, there are many other fantastic resources available that can help teach students about recording and mixing.
- Alan Parsons Art and Science of Sound. This is a fantastic DVD series and covers all the basics of recording instruments and provides great background theory on the developing of recording technology. The chapters on mixing are very weak though but the videos on recording are gold. A new accompanying book has also just been released and is available at Amazon.
- Mixing Secrets For the Small Studio by Mike Senior – while this might be a hard read for students I’ve not come across anything that explains the concepts of mixing as well as this. It’s all too easy to use presets on plugins thinking that they will provide you with a good mix (FYI, presets are never the answer!). This book goes way beyond that showing you how to approach the mix for each song along with the specifics of the techniques for using EQ, Compression, etc. I’ve bought this book twice as well as on Kindle I love it so much!
- Shakingthrough.com – This is an amazing website for a recording studio (Weathervane Records) that records artists but also documents the process from a technical/recording viewpoint as well as a creative/compositional viewpoint. All tracks of songs featured in the videos are available for download so you can practise your mixing chops.
They have just released a new educational course in mixing. I’ll be using this with my students in 2015 so I’ll write blogs about how well it works.
- How To Listen app from Harmon – a great tool for teaching students to associate frequency boosts and cuts on EQ with Hz numbers. This app helps to train their ears to listen critically to frequency ranges and to learn to associate descriptions with those ranges. Also worthy of a mention is the “hearEQ” app for iOS available on the app store.
- hearEQ for iOS from the app store – another brilliant ear training tool – especially it’s ‘learn’ feature which allows you to boost and cut various frequencies of any song in your iTunes library. Also worthy of a mention is “Quiztones” also available from the App store.
- Recording Secrets for the Small Studio by Mike Senior – probably a better book for advanced students who already understand the basics of recording techniques. This book is excellent at giving tips for recording in less than ideal environments (which most schools are stuck with as very few schools can afford purpose built studios with excellent acoustics). What is also really great about this book though is the advice that Mike gives with regards to working with performers and how to get the best out of them. Overall, full of wise advice from one of the best people in the business.
- Soundonsound.com – this website (and associated magazine) is the best recording/mixing magazine out there. It’s the best way of staying up to date with the latest releases in music technology equipment. Articles are well written and full of practical advice.
- Pensados Place – Definitely for more advanced students and teachers… this fascinating production from Dave Pensado, one of the top mixing engineers in the music industry, regularly interviews the top mixing engineers, performers and producers. The insights into the creative process from people who are at the top of their game and the best in the LA, NYC and Nashville music scenes is really fascinating. Also great is the “Into the Lair” segment where Dave provides really clever (and often advanced) mixing techniques.
- Groove3.com – this website provides excellent video tutorials for all the major DAW’s. You can pretty much learn everything you need to know for any DAW (like Pro Tools, Studio One, Logic, etc) by watching these 2-3 hour tutorials. Add in another 3-4 hours of working on what is shown in the videos and inside a day you can get up and running with any DAW.
- Live Audio Basics DVD from Down2Earth – this can be pretty painful to watch (I wonder if Americans find it as painful to watch as my students and I do? – could be a cultural thing?) but the content and clarity with which live PA systems are explained is the best I’ve seen. Yes, the focus is on live PA (and this is supposed to be a blog about recording and mixing resources) but their explanation on signal flow, maintaining Unity Gain, Aux/buss sends,etc are brilliant and all vitally important to recording systems as well.
I have other resources I use as well, but these are my top ten (of course aside from the resources I’ve written available at http://www.learningideas.co.nz). Go ahead and list your favourites in the comments section. I know there are a lot of great websites out there so feel free to list them.
Happy new year! May your 2015 be full of creative goodness!