I am excited to share this guest post written by Doug from midilifestyle.com about how to get your kids involved in electronic music production.
Fact: learning music helps improve your child’s brain. We’re talking language development, increased IQ, better spatial skills — the works (source: PBS).
So, apart from supporting your kid’s passions, getting your child into electronic music production will only be beneficial to them.
Getting music production software into your child’s hands can really help them learn basic music theory as well as allow them to create full songs. Playing with the virtual piano that would be included will help them see the different notes, the scales, and how to form chords.
Plus, learning to produce music electronically is a valuable skill that can lead to a great career.
But the question is — how? What steps can you take today to help get your kids into electronic music production?
Well, here are three simple things you can do.
Buy her or him the necessary equipment
Your child won’t get into music production if they have no way of producing the music. That’s why they need the equipment to do so — this is the most important step you can take.
There are three must-have pieces of equipment they’ll need. Let’s jump right in!
A reasonably fast computer
You need some sort of device to record music — a laptop, a desktop or even a tablet will fit the bill.
A lot of indie musicians record award-winning albums using a laptop. This is the age of the home recording studio where producers are not constrained by the size or price of their equipment. For example, a teenager named Steve Lacy produced a song for the famous rapper Kendrick Lamar — and he recorded the whole thing on his iPhone. Another fun fact: Grammy-winning artist Skrillex produced his chart-topping track, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites with nothing but a Macbook and a half-broken set of headphones. Really, electronic music production is all about your creativity.
For a child starting out in music production, all you need is a reasonably fast computer. Apple computers are pretty (inside and out) and very easy to use, but you will pay more for them. If you decide to buy a new computer for your kid, Windows laptops are very inexpensive nowadays and offer plenty of horsepower under the hood.
If you need some guidance, you can check out some of our recommended laptops here. A lot of great choices to pick from!
A DAW (digital audio workstation)
Your child will also need a piece of recording software called a digital audio workstation, or DAW for short. Below are some of the best DAW options for beginners.
You probably won’t see this DAW in professional studios, but it can still allow one to make professional-sounding music. It’s built to win the hearts of beginners.
Garageband has been used a lot in education and has also been a great home tool for amateur musicians to compose music.
GarageBand uses Apple Loops, which are live-recorded in a fancy studio somewhere. You can also make your own custom beats with the same high-quality technology.
Plus, if your child is always on their phone, you can let them know that GarageBand is available on their iPhone (and iPad) as well. One thing you should know is that it’s only available for Apple devices — in fact, it comes preloaded on them for free!
Stagelight, like GarageBand, is super easy to use, and that’s good news for beginners. It actually says it’s “Android’s answer to GarageBand,” so you can think of it like GarageBand’s brother from another mother.
It, too, is available on your laptop and mobile phone, so you can create and edit anywhere, especially for electronic music makers. They have a free version to get your kid started, and then they have the Ultimate Bundle for $50.
3. LMMS (Free)
LMMS (which stands for Linux Multi-Media Studio) is a free DAW with digital instruments, sweet effects, and a forum for any questions your child may have. It’s another easy-to-use DAW, and it’s compatible with any operating system.
4. Ableton Live
Back in the early 2000s, pretty much the only option for a DAW was Pro Tools, which is a great (and expensive) DAW used in most pro studios. Ableton Live came along in 2001, giving musicians and audio engineers an alternative option, and it was a stellar option. Through its longevity, it has proven its reliability.
The way Ableton created Live and the way it shows up on the computer screen is different from most DAWs — it’s designed to make improvisation and performance easier.
Ableton Live 9 Lite is absolutely free, but of course it won’t have all of the features the upgraded versions have. As your child progresses into the intermediate and pro level production, you can look at the Intro ($100), Standard ($450), and Suite versions ($750).
For a music producer just starting out, this DAW could be a very smart choice.
Starting out on regular computer speakers is fine for beginners, especially if you’re only playing around, but it does make a difference to upgrade.
Having some decent studio monitor headphones allows your child to hear a more accurate and balanced sound when making and editing music. If you rather have speakers than headphones, regular studio monitors exist as well, but to get a decent pair, they can be pricey ($300+).
1. Shure SRH440
Shure is known for making one of the most versatile and durable microphones available, the Shure SM58, and they deliver the same level of quality to their headphones.
The monitoring is nearly perfect, the extended frequency response gives you killer audio, and you can even replace the ear cup, making the headphones last a lot longer.
And these are only $100. They’re your best option for headphones.
2. Sennheiser HD-280
These collapsible headphones are well-designed and deliver studio-level audio quality, making them one of the most-used sound-proofing headphones.
They can handle up to 32 dB of noise — that may not mean anything to you, but it basically means they can put out a good amount of sound without sounding bad.
You can grab them for around $100, a typical price point for studio headphones.
3. Audio-Technica ATH-M50 Professional Studio Monitor Headphones
The big pro with these headphones is in the title. They’re designed to work in any recording studio situation.
Because of their extended frequency response makes them deliver clear yet full-bodied audio. Plus, outside noise is almost entirely cut out, so your child can be focused on every note they create.
These are a little more expensive than the HD-280s at $150, but they’re worth every dollar.
Consider music lessons
The second big thing you can do to get your kid interested in electronic music production is to sign them up for music lessons. Knowing basic music theory, chord progressions, and song structure may skyrocket your child from a novice music maker to an intermediate producer. The cool bells and whistles (possibly literal) only sound good if the operator knows what they’re doing.
Looking for a great course on learning piano? Check out Jessica’s Piano Course Level 1. It’s reasonably priced, starting as low as $5. Whether you’re young or old, it will take you from no piano knowledge, to memorizing and playing a song successfully.
Enroll them in music productions courses
If your child wants to learn about electronic music, a great way to encourage that interest is by signing them up for electronic music production courses. You can find a few listed here, and all for reasonable prices.
Udemy also has plenty of educational music courses for as low as $5-15 — your child could probably pay for them out of their piggy bank.
I hope you found this article helpful! For further help on this topic, drop a line in the comments below.