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Making Music In Quarantine: The Best Online Tools To Learn & Develop Your Sonic Skills
With the ongoing quarantine causing everyone to spend a lot more time at home, there's no better time to learn a new instrument or dust off the one you haven't had enough time for. Below, we've rounded up a list of free and low-cost resources for learning music online.
Not long after the GRAMMY Museum in Downtown Los Angeles temporarily shut its doors, they expanded their digital presence by bringing some of their past star-studded programming online, adding new lesson plans for students and more. You can download lesson plans like the music of the Civil Rights movement, producing with MIDI and video production, to use in the at-home classroom with the kiddos—maybe you'll even want to learn along with them. Music fans of all ages will love the digital program series and exhibits. New offerings will be added daily—you can also watch newly online programs (intimate talks and performances held in the Clive Davis Theater) with GRAMMY winners Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, Kool & The Gang, Brandi Carlile, Los Tigres del Norte and more. Check out the full schedule here and visit grammymuseum.org/museum-at-home for more.
If you have a Roland piano/keyboard at home or are thinking about ordering one online to make staying at home a little more fun, the instrument company is offering three free months of digital lessons. Roland's partnership with online piano and guitar learning platform Skoove will get you jamming out in tune in no time. The Berlin-based company offers an iOS app for iPad and iPhone, to make learning at the piano easier.
Fender Play, the guitar giant's online learning platform, launched in 2017, is also offering three months of free online lessons—for guitar, bass and ukulele. According to their website, the content is broken down into "bite-sized lessons" to make learning fun and approachable for all ages and skill levels, featuring songs you'll want to learn and musicians you'll want to learn from. With iOS and Android apps, you can access the courses from your tablet, phone or computer.
Jam Play also offers online guitar and bass lessons, with an extensive catalog of all-level on-demand instructional videos, as well as live courses and master classes from guitar heroes like Brent Mason and Steve Stevens. Their all-access membership costs $20/month or $169/year, with other premium as well as ala carte options available.
For all the drum protegees out there, Queen drummer Roger Taylor has been sharing tons of great tutorials on his Instagram, including fellow percussion heroes like Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins. In the IGTV video, shared above, Hawkins demonstrates how to hit a perfect 4/4 beat. Head to Taylor's Instagram for a bunch more drum lessons.
Women's Audio Mission, an Oakland-based music education organization focused on bringing more women into the studio, is continuing their important mission by offering free online classes for women and gender non-conforming individuals. Upcoming livestream classes include "Breaking into the Audio Industry" and "Intro to Synths." They are also offering free access to some other great online learning tools, like their "Sound Essentials" series, which breaks down microphone technique, recording and more.
For the dance music fans that want to master the digital synth, both Moog and Korg are offering limited-time free downloads of their Minimoog Model D and Kaossilator apps. Both offer iOS apps for both iPad and iPhone that are, at the time of this writing, free to download, while Korg also has an Android app that costs $20.
DJ Mag recently rounded up a great list of some their favorite free digital studio tools, including the aforementioned apps, as well as some great plugins for anyone wanting to make dope beats on their computer. For synths, they also recommend DEXED, a digital plugin version of the classic '80s Yamaha DX7 synth (as heard on Tina Turner's "What's Love Got To Do With It" and Whitney Houston's "Saving All My Love For You"). They also highlighted the power of Apple Garageband, which has been boosted in recent years with some of the functionality of the not-free Logic Pro and, if you have a Mac, is already on your computer. In addition to a couple of free multi-faceted plugins (loops, samples and more), they also recommend two powerful browser-based tools—Audiotool and BandLab.
For those who really just love learning, and want to learn music skills and beyond from some of the most beloved names of our time, Masterclass is a great resource. They are currently offering a two-for-one deal on their annual passes, meaning you and a friend or family member can both sign up for $180 total for unlimited access to courses. Masterclasses taught by musicians currently include Christina Aguilera teaching singing, Timbaland teaching producing and beatmaking, Carlos Santana slaying guitar, deadmau5 diving into electronic music production, Usher showcasing the art of performance, Herbie Hancock teaching jazz and more.
For the music student craving tailored lessons, Live Lesson Masters can connect you to musicians (stuck at home just like you!) who are ready to teach you one-on-one over video calls. They currently offer a ton of categories, like vocal coaching, piano lessons, production, guitars, drums, horns, DJing as well as cooking and yoga classes, with more to be added soon. The website explains lessons will be tailored to the student's level, with all ages welcome. Prices range depending on the "lesson master" a.k.a. teacher, but average about $100/hour. For those who can afford it, the money supports the currently-unable-to-tour-musicians, with a portion of proceeds also going to charities supporting touring artists and crew.