Distance Learning: Music Technology Courses & Workshops

Mike Lawson • Technology • May 10, 2012

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By John Kuzmich, Jr.

Technology is changing how we deliver education. However, getting up to speed on the innovative opportunities that come with new software and hardware can be helped by an occasional jumpstart. At the end of this column is a link to a listing of over 130 online workshops and course offerings that cover every aspect of music technology education (click here to download a pdf of the listing). While traditional travel and housing expenses have been eliminated, you’ll need four things to participate: a fast internet connection (broadband or higher); a Pentium 4 computer or a Mac (with 4 GBs of RAM); a microphone connected to the computer; and access to videoconferencing software for the interactive classes. GoToMeeting and WebEX are popular examples of videoconferencing software that work well over broadband internet connections without special hardware requirements. Skype also offers multipoint conferencing. Webcams are usually optional, although many laptops now include built in cameras.

Distance-learning instruction comes in two styles of delivery: synchronous and asynchronous. Asynchronous classes offer pre-recorded lectures and demonstrations, while synchronous is live, real-time interactive streaming over the Internet. Some asynchronous workshops offer live chat sessions so students can interact occasionally with the teacher; these are called “blended learning.” Blended learning may also have prerecorded material presented after the live chatroom transmissions. Three model approaches for distance-learning featured here are: lynda.com, berkleemusic.com, and IUPUI. Lynda.com offers well over 50 asynchronous courses for quick and easy training on a monthly subscription basis. Berkleemusic.com offers blended learning instruction. IUPUI offers both asynchronous and synchronous instruction.

Three Models of Distance-Learning Instruction


Technically, lynda.com is not distance learning. Rather, it’s an online resource for anyone who wants to learn software, technology, business, or creative skills without academic pressure. With a lynda.com subscription, members receive access to the entire library of video tutorials in nine different content areas: 3D/Animation, Business, Design, Developer, Home Computing, Photography, Video, Web/Interactive, and, perhaps most useful for our purposes, Audio. This helpful structure has been in place since 2002 when Lynda Weinman and Bruce Heavin began posting training videos online at www.lynda.com. With over one million individual, corporate, academic, and government subscribers, lynda.com was recently ranked the 13th fastest-growing, privately-held education company in the U.S. by Inc. magazine. Schools are partnering with lynda.com so students and teachers can stay on top of ever-evolving technology.

Lynda.com currently offers 50 courses that focus on teaching digital audio tools and skills, such as mixing, mastering, music production, recording, and scoring and composition. For example, there are courses in audio software such as Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Garage Band, Soundbooth, Finale, Reason, Sibelius, and Soundtrack ProTools. They also offer courses to learn skills surrounding these digital tools, such as Digital Audio Principles, Foundations of Audio, and Audio Mixing Bootcamp.

Courses vary in length. For example, Pro Tools 10 is a nine-hour course and iTunes Essential Training is a four-and-a-half-hour course. However, each course is divided into bite-sized sections so students can learn at their own pace. There is no homework (or grades) associated with the video tutorials. Students either need to own the software or have access to it. Since all of the courses are video courses, the faster the Internet connection, the better. Their service requires up to 440 KB/s per individual user. With self-directed asynchronous learning, you go at your own pace and direct your own learning path.

There is no need to send large data files. All of the lynda.com courses are available online. Lynda.com is always publishing new courses for further learning, and are often the first to offer training when new software versions are released on Mac, PC, mobile, and tablet technology. There are no deadlines for completing any courses all of which are available for a monthly subscription fee. This approach allows the flexibility to be able to watch a course from beginning to end, watch numerous courses in one session, or watch specific videos that cover particular skills and topics. Linda.com also provides 24/7 access to the library from a Mac, PC, smart phone, or tablet.


Berkleemusic.com was launched in 2002 and now offers 150+ courses and certificate programs. The purpose of berkleemusic.com is to provide avenues for learning music technology instruction either for recertification or academic expertise. Music technology changes so fast that it is essential that there be avenues for such study, and the variety and wealth/depth of instruction at Berklee is incredible.

A maximum of 20 students per class allows for more personal interaction between students and teacher. For larger classes, Berklee offers multiple sections of a course to keep that ratio. Out of the 150 courses, there are many areas of music technology with which to engage. The music production area, for example, has between 30 and 35 courses. There are professional certificate programs, such as their most popular course of study, music production and technology, which is a collection of 12 different courses. In music production, there are about 30 courses and 20 certificates that give students more than 50 options of study. Because of the number of courses offered, students can become very proficient in what’s being taught. There are abundant courses for entry, intermediate, and advanced levels: four or five ProTools courses and advanced mixing and mastering techniques ranging from Music 101 to 301. Professional students have taken courses while on tour, including musicians from groups like Sugarland and the Dave Matthews Band.

Every course is 12 weeks long and available on Mac and PC. Berklee doesn’t offer any short-term courses. Within every course, there is a one-hour chat interaction on a weekly basis. The live chat uses WebEx to coordinate all students in the class. The teacher uses video, audio, and screen-sharing to answer questions and may add additional information to the course in the weekly chat session. For the rest of the instruction, the student does the work privately in an asynchronous mode. Generally, five hours of outside home is required for every hour of on-line instruction each week (chat, assignments, and quizzes). Students generally own their own software, but Berklee has partnered with companies directly to provide educational discounts for such programs as ProTools, Aberton Live, Logic, Sonar, and Cubase. They also use freeware, like a. Every course has hardware and software requirements, but Internet speed requirements are not that specific. Webcams are not required, but some teachers may request them.


Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) has a long history of innovative leadership in music technology offerings at both the undergraduate and graduate level, and IUPUI is currently developing a doctorate program in music technology. Some undergraduate courseware is transmitted over public television, while others are delivered asynchronously over the Internet. Most graduate degree courses are transmitted synchronously with a few courses utilizing podcasts or recorded video.

IUPUI offers 10 online courses, plus elective courses for the masters degree in Music Technology and 10 courses for the masters degree in Music Therapy program. All elective courses and three of the music technology core courses are available to students who are not enrolled in a degree. These include: Music Website Development, Using Flash, Using ProTools, Using Finale, Sound Design, Teaching at a Distance, Teaching with Social Media, and the yearly International Music Technology Conference and Workshop. The average course has 42 hours of instruction for students. There is a designated time limit which conforms to university deadlines for completion of campus courses, usually a day or two after the final exam period.

The faster the Internet connection the better, but students can use DSL at 768k or cable internet connections at 1.4 Mbps. All graduate courses have access to a live chat during class through Adobe Connect Pro and Oncourse. Students may also videoconference through Connect Pro during class and can Skype or iChat with an instructor or chat online outside of class meetings. The music department uses Tandberg’s H.323 MOVI system for high-end videoconferencing. Students do not need a webcam for any class. The department’s courseware is Mac and PC compatible.

IUPUI runs their annual International Music Technology Conference and Workshop during the third week of June. This year it will be held June 20-23, 2012. It is videostreamed live with on-campus students present.

Closing Comments

There are so many ways to access the latest learning in music technology. Examine the directory for a myriad of topics via both on-site and distant-learning. Hopefully, you will find what meets your needs and incorporate technology skills in your teaching. Also, check out the web supplement at: www.kuzmich.com/musictech12.html for late submissions. You might also consider earning a professional music technology certificate offered by TI:ME (Technology Institute for Music Educators), which has workshops taught by their certified instructors from coast to coast. The April 2009 and 2010 issues of SBO magazine will give you good look at TI:ME and its advantages for music educators. Many of their workshops are listed in this directory.

I invite you to peruse this directory of music technology classes for opportunities in professional growth and career development. On-campus instruction is represented coast-to-coast. Distance learning is everywhere. This is a rich resource for both summer study and year-round learning.

2012 Music Technology Course Offerings

Click Here to download a table of Music Technology Course Offerings.

Dr John Kuzmich

Dr. John Kuzmich Jr. is a veteran music educator, jazz educator and music technologist with more than 41 years of public school teaching experience. He is a TI:ME-certified training instructor and has a Ph.D. in comprehensive musicianship. As a freelance author, Dr. Kuzmich has more than 400 articles and five text

books published. As a clinician, Dr. Kuzmich frequently participates in workshops throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, and South America.

For more information, visit www.kuzmich.com.

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