Starting out – Ableton’s Learning Music

ChromeBooks are great pieces of kit, especially for educational purposes. They are affordable, lightweight, quick little machines which can be accessed immediately with an internet connection. You can even get away with not signing in to an account by browsing as a ‘Guest’.

One of the biggest drawbacks of using ChromeBooks, however, is the fact that everything you do is completed via online apps run through the Chrome web browser. Even when you open, say, a Word document, it opens online in Microsoft’s Word online app. The same can be said for music making and learning apps and websites.

The first website which I have found to be excellent for the learning and making of music is Ableton’s Learning Music (Beta) website. And this is where I am going to start!

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Ableton are making massive headway in their live performance products. They ship with piles of rhythms, beats, melodies and sounds; everything you need to make banging tunes straight out of the box.

But one issue I have always come across when teaching music is the fact that, without some sort of basic musical understanding, even the most advanced and costly gear won’t make you a musical superstar. Too many times have I seen the “all the gear, no idea” crew claiming to be musical geniuses, simply because they’ve spent a pile of cash on fancy looking gear.

With Learning Music (Beta), Ableton have provided a comprehensive programme of digital music making lessons which start from absolute basics, ending in a ‘Playground‘ where you can put your music making skills to the test and have a good old mess around making beats, chords and melodies.

The web resource Ableton have created is excellent. I spent a good half hour simply playing around on the first page triggering beats and chords in different combinations!

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As a course for non-specialist teachers, it is a priceless resource. The only drawback I have is that you cannot export your work as an MP3 or useable file for evidence. You can export some of your sessions to Ableton Live, should you have it, but not many educational institutions would have it as standard. You could, however, use a tablet or camera to record or film evidence second hand; something which would be more than acceptable. If you are fortunate enough to have a digital recorder or external sound card, you could run a line out from the headphone socket of the ChromeBook to a portable device. I will cover this sort of recording in a future post.

So, go ahead and click on Ableton Learning Music (Beta) now – you won’t be disappointed!

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