Teaching

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RoyMatthews
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Teaching

Post by RoyMatthews » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:06 am

So, I've been asked to teach some classes at a local studio. They have only had a pilot class so far so everything is up in the air. Right now I'm tapped to cover two sections. The first deals with audio basics and the other focuses on Pro Tools.

Part of the problem is I only have four hours for each section. So audio basics is two, two-hour classes and PT is the same. Not a lot of time. I'm not so concerned with the PT class. There's a lot to show in that time but I feel like I could get people up to speed to do the basics in about that time.

I'm sort of unsure about the audio basics. I'm having trouble narrowing down what to talk about into 4 hours. I made an outline but it's on my laptop at the moment and not on my iPad here.

Any thoughts as to what I should focus on? First two hour class would be sound basics. What is sound, acoustics, levels, dBs, phase, etc. As well as microphone basic design and patterns. Class two would be studio hardwear, a basic console, and routing.

I know it's a lot to cram into four hours. I will probably just glance over some of the above concepts. It's supposed to be just the basics. If I have more time I'd love to cover the "realities" of a session and run through a basic mic'ing situation from instrument to computer. I'd also like to cover music basics too like bars and song construction but there will be a Logic class that might be a better fit.

Anyway, I guess what I'm looking for is any suggestions for anything I missed or anything I should drop or focus on. The class is open to anyone so I'll get people of different ages and levels of knowledge but I'm assuming they will mostly be high school kids.

Thoughts?
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Post by vvv » Thu Aug 28, 2014 10:03 am

You might want to mention purpose, employment, clientele and business issues?

The old "who, what, where and when" as well as the "how".

And I'd also mention the absolute importance of lava lamps. :twisted:
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Post by RoyMatthews » Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:48 am

vvv wrote:You might want to mention purpose, employment, clientele and business issues?

The old "who, what, where and when" as well as the "how".

And I'd also mention the absolute importance of lava lamps. :twisted:
Yeah, that all makes sense but I still have to figure out how much time I have. The whole thing is pretty disorganized. I'm not even sure they'll get many people to sign up for the class.

And, even though "lave lamps" was tongue in cheek, there is something to be said for the importance of "vibe" and creating an environment and situation that is productive and conductive to creating art.
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Post by wren » Thu Aug 28, 2014 11:53 am

I've taught a few one-off classes on sound design for theater - I discuss the physics of sound first by talking at the class, showing them terms and diagrams and such. I start with the very basic sine wave concept, talk about how sound waves propagate, and about amplitude and frequency and show them those things first in diagrams in powerpoint then in audio and oscilloscope in MaxMSP. Then I talk about complex waveforms and harmonics/partials and how sound waves a) are physically produced and b) how they interact with the physical world in general. Then I show them most of this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8YoGn-J3S08. Then, to really drive the point home about how much of an impact physical space has on sound, I play them excerpts from Alvin Lucier's I Am Sitting In A Room - that typically blows their minds (in a very good way). Chladni plates are also crowd-pleasers - if you have the time, a couple short videos are usually very well-received. And when I have time, I talk about mp3s and file compression, and what information that actually removes from the uncompressed audio - I find that making that part of the "physics-of-sound" talk makes the information stick a lot better.

EDIT: Another really important thing to do that I always do is play a low-pitched sine wave and have the class get up and walk around the room slowly, paying close attention to finding places where the standing waves either increase or decrease the volume dramatically. It's another demonstration that totally shocks people in a good way.

From there I move on to talking about microphones and mixers and such.

I have a sort of standard powerpoint I've made - if you're interested, feel free to PM me your email and I'll send it to you. The first third is probably all that's relevant for what you'll be teaching, but it might be helpful for you...who knows?
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RoyMatthews
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Post by RoyMatthews » Thu Aug 28, 2014 12:20 pm

wren wrote: I have a sort of standard powerpoint I've made - if you're interested, feel free to PM me your email and I'll send it to you. The first third is probably all that's relevant for what you'll be teaching, but it might be helpful for you...who knows?
Thanks. That's very kind of you. I will send a PM.

Also, thank you for introducing me to Alvin Lucier. I've never heard of him before but "I Am Sitting In A Room" is fascinating.

You've given me a few things to think about. Videos would be helpful to break up the pace of classes bit as well as the sine wave demonstration. I guess I've just given thought to what I was going to teach but haven't given any thought to how to best present it.

I've never taught before and this course doesn't have a set curriculum so I'm starting from scratch.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:18 pm

Kids or adults? Who's yer students? Are they motivated to be there (home studio owners, etc.) or required to be there, high-schoolers, college kids, felons, etc. I'd start with where the students are at. Especially if it's grownups.

Androgogy is a whole nuther kettle of fish from pedagogy.

Adults need the material to relate to what they already know and to be presented in a practical, experiential format, kids are more open to being led around by the nose and spoonfed a lecture. To grossly over-simplify. In, fact, some kids will get angry if you don't just hand them all the info on a silver platter and you force them to think instead.

Mentally put your [before you already knew all this shit] ass in the seat and imagine what would blow your mind in the best possible way and give them the first four hours of that.

I don't see a problem with leaving them wanting more either. If you can stoke a curiosity and love for this stuff in them, they've got the whole internet, you, the studio, schools, mom and dad, etc., that they can go to for more answers/info. Teach them how to read a spec sheet and you've fed them for life - kinda thing.
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Post by RoyMatthews » Thu Aug 28, 2014 4:34 pm

Unfortunately, I don't know who the students will be yet. It's open to anyone. It's hard to guess motivation. I'm hoping to get some heads up on the makeup of the class before day one. I'm assuming it'll be people who have little to no recording background.

I feel like I won't have much time to really teach them much. So far my plan is to lay out the basics and come up with further resources to point them to to be able to explore more on their own.

Reading a spec sheet is a good idea.

I feel like routing/signal flow is one of the more important concepts to grasp.
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Post by GlowSounds » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:09 pm

In this situation, to me it would be very important to send them out of the class with a good reading list (and online resources, videos, reference tracks, etc...). There's only so much you can teach in 4 hours, so make sure they have plenty of resources to move forward with once they're out on their own.

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Post by Gregg Juke » Thu Aug 28, 2014 9:28 pm

It all sounds good to me. If you have a good, interested group, four hours can indeed fly by. But it's better to be over-prepared than under. Definitely follow the above suggestions and show some video, have some listening-only audio examples, and generally mix it up for the different learning styles you're likely to have in class. If there's any way to do "hands-on," or at least have some "realia" (live samples of mikes to pass around and gear to demo), that can help keep their attention from wandering.

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Post by drumsound » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:12 pm

It isn't a lot of time, but you can give them a lot of good information and hopefully pique their interest. I wouldn't get into the songs, or musical things, let a music class cover that. A bit on acoustics would be good. Clap you hands in the space, talk about what YOU hear after you ask them what THEY hear. Then have all of them stand in one corner of the room and clap again. Move around and clap. This will get them thinking about a lot of things. You can refer to it later when talking about micing, reverb and delay, and even phase. Discuss mic types, and frequency range of instruments. Discuss how these things interact. I'm glad you already mentioned signal flow. That was one of the things I really had to take some time wrap my head around when I first got a gig in a studio. Do a section on EQ, and another on compression. Talk about mic placement.

In the Pro Tools sections do something on Playlists and comping tracks, simple editing and mixing. Write some automation with the faders, and some where you draw things into the edit window. Show them how to set and use effects on an aux track and right on the instrument track.

Show in PT the things you talked about in the "audio in general" sections. Tie everything together.

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Post by vvv » Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:49 pm

Mebbe mention hearing health, too, and counsel against extended use of I-Pods, do use plugs at gigs and concerts, etc.

Did I mention lava lamps?

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Post by RoyMatthews » Tue Sep 02, 2014 5:40 am

Thanks guys. Some helpful stuff.

@drumsound: yeah. That's how I was going to approach it. I'm going to try to keep anything I talk about in the beginning section going through out the whole class. Especially in the PT section. Like phase differences between a bass amp and bass di and when we talk about eq I was thinking of using a drum room track to point out room resonances. Stuff like that.

@vvv: That's a good point. I probably wouldn't dwell on it but pointing out health impacts of constant earbud use is a good idea. I did think about that when thinking about the range of human hearing.

and when in doubt, turn on the lava lamp.
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Post by Snarl 12/8 » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:08 am

I can tell you from experience, if they are older and don't know what an overdub is, it's going to be really hard to really get it across to them without a demo. They also might have no clue that you can cut and paste audio just like you can words in a word processor. I mean, it totally depends on who you're talking to, that's why I asked about your students' demographicses.

Edit: and if any of them are going to be famous, crazy and drug addled, you should hammer home the point that you can't always cut and paste a penis.
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Post by RoyMatthews » Tue Sep 02, 2014 11:12 am

That's certainly true. Referring to PT as "a word processor of audio" isn't a terrible idea. I don't know what the demographics really are. In the pilot program they had mostly late teens with a 40 yo mixed in. I could be really random.

It may all be moot at this point I don't know if they've had enough, if any, enrollment.

Still, it's a good thing for all of us to think about. It's interesting to try to recall what I really know and what I think I know and finding gaps in my knowledge and having to do research. We should all pretend we are teaching a class at one point or another.
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Post by vvv » Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:15 pm

I'm between bands right now. And even when in my last couple, I find myself teaching the guys about the process. But I have a jam session coming up, and I spent a half hour on the phone with a guy setting up the jam re recording because I could answer his questions ... (Gonna jam with Lainie Kazan's former guitarist! 72, he's played with Sinatra and even some rock acts - I'm lokin' forward to learning some stuff!)

I totally enjoy that aspect, even as I realize that until they get a result, they are entirely skeptical.

Hopefully, when you begin as a teacher, they take you seriously. That was a big problem on the first of the two Bustouts CD's I did, especially re the drum recording, altho' my sense of vindication was enhanced in correlation to the frustration ...

I've often considered becoming a teacher if I decide to change professions, altho' I'm not widely experienced enough in the field to teach audio - it would be somethinge else I do know a lot about.

Mebbe drinking ... :twisted:
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