Blog: Learning with Tutorials

One of the things about beginning anything - electronic music production included - is that it just seems so daunting.  It's a new skill, just like any skill and it requires attention if you want to get better at it.  Thinking about it is not enough.

So how do you learn?  I can only tell you from my experience but I don't think it's that different from how others have - many of my friends are professional electronic musicians as well.  There's no easy way but there are a few tips and resources I can give.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?  PRACTICE - that's not a secret.  You don't get much better than when you're engaged, working in front of your DAW.  Try to break it!  If you can't figure out how a certain function works or is usually applied, just start clicking around with your mouse, search the Help menu, or find another way around the problem.  C Harmonic Minor is a key I love working in from experience, because I just started hitting notes I liked to hear together in combination - and then I looked online at what chords I was making and learned the key in that backwards way.  BUT I know what it is now and I wouldn't have learned that unless I did that research and practice.

Tutorials are GREAT resources on how to use functions in most DAWs or instruments.  Hit up YouTube, start a playlist of videos you find and want to watch or functions/methods/techniques you'd like to learn.  How do I sidechain in Cubase?  What are a few good analog synthesizers for under $500 to check out?  Can I control video mixers with Ableton Live?  All this stuff can be found on YouTube - but a quick Google search will give you a ton of other resources as well.

The problem I usually run into with tutorial watching is that it's time consuming and attention/vigor can wane pretty quickly.  Nobody sits down and does 8 hours of tutorials at once - you can't possibly be productive that way even with breaks.  As amazing a resource as they are their use is finite if you bore yourself to death or kill your creativity.  I'd limit tutorials of any kind, no matter how excited you are about them, to no more than an hour a day.  Use the time afterwards to practice what you learned.  Remember you won't get better at your craft without actually doing your craft.  You can watch tutorials on how to ice skate but unless you put the skates on and try it, you won't get better.

Which brings me to this - MAKE SURE YOU TAKE NOTES.  Stop the videos you watch meticulously so you can type or write down what you saw or heard.  Better yet, take some screenshots as well so you remember what exactly was being shown.  It's that important.  Your time is valuable - you'll never get it back - so why watch a tutorial more than once?  Keep your notes as organized as your projects and preferably in a searchable database (Apple's Pages is a good example) that way when you need something and you know you've watched a tutorial on it you can just search quickly to find an answer.

All that said, here's a few tutorial resources I've found over the years:

ADSR Tutorials (lots of other content - both free and paid is available) (everybody knows Lynda, it's a subscription service but there's a ton of tutorials and walkthroughs by certified professionals on it, worth every penny!)

5 Best EDM Tutorial Channels on YouTube

SonicState - subscribe to their podcast as well, Nick Batt is great!