Category: music production

RSL Centre Spotlight: Planet Drum

July 9th, 2021 by

In our RSL Centre Spotlight this week, we’re here to deliver some pretty exciting news! Planet Drum Music School in London have launched an incredible Music Production course designed to get that Grade 1 Rockschool qualification under your belt.

Intrigued? We spoke to the wonderful staff at Planet Drum to chat about this fantastic course, so keep reading to find out more!

So, first thing’s first, tell us a little bit about Planet Drum! Where did it all start and how is it going?

We’ve been teaching students of all backgrounds, ages and abilities for over 20 years. We’re a team of passionate musicians with decades of experience between us, and we love sharing our tips and wisdom with our students. We’re proud to have established a positive, fun and supportive environment here at Planet Drum, where you’ll feel inspired to learn, progress and create.

Our Islington studio is a vibrant and creative hub where all musicians of all levels and ages are always welcome.

Now we have also gone online providing lessons and COURSES, so you can learn from wherever you are in the world AND from the comfort of your own home in your own time.

It sounds incredible. Now, we’re desperate to know more about this Music Production course!

In this course, we follow the Rockschool curriculum to guide you through the essentials of becoming a music producer, including learning how to record, edit and mix.

The course provides you with the necessary material needed to understand music production terminology as well as audio fundamentals.

You can progress through the course and learn at your own pace while practicing on the digital audio workstation of your choice. This is the best feature that we love about the RSL course, you can use ANY DAW.

Sign up now and take the first step to become a music producer.

We absolutely love that aspiring music producers will be able to get some guidance through those initial stages. It’s going to be so invaluable! So how exactly does the course help someone prepare for the Rockschool Music Production Grade 1 exam?

As well as teaching you music production theory, we also guide you through your coursework and how to sign up for your exam. We also give you practice questions so that by the end of this first course you are confident and ready to pass your Grade 1 Rockschool Music Production exam.

Amazing. And our final question to you is, how can people sign up and take part?

You can sign up FOR FREE on Udemy for a limited time only – and then it will be available on Udemy and Thinkific for $28 (£20).

You will also get access to our free BandLab course when you sign up, as well as an optional 1:1 zoom session with us where we can help you with your coursework or any questions that you may have.

All of the lessons are downloadable as a PDF as well.

We’re in awe of Planet Drum and their innovation with creating this course. Be sure to get signed up now if it sounds like something you’re interested in. We can’t wait to see all these students smash through the exam!

If you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more about Planet Drum this week, be sure to check out our interviews with other RSL centres, Bishopbriggs School of Music and Pro Music Tuition. Each of our centres really are innovating in their own individual ways after an incredibly tough year, and we couldn’t be more inspired.

Music Production A-Z

April 15th, 2021 by

In this week’s Music Production blog we’re getting nerdy. From Audio Interface to XLR, look no further for your A-Z of Music Production terms. Whether you’re preparing for an exam or are simply keen to learn some new terms, look no further!

A – Audio Interface

The computer peripheral which enables the user to input and output audio from a computer, converting the analogue sound into digital when recording and the digital back into audio when played back.

B – Bandwidth

The range of audio frequencies which directly influence the fidelity of a sound.

C – Chorusing

A nifty tool that makes a single sound appear to sound like an entire ensemble. The signal is duplicated and delayed slightly, with a subtle variation of pitch. These time and pitch differences are controlled by a low frequency oscillator (LFO) to provide a subtle variation to the sound.

D – DAW

DAW stands for Digital Audio Workstation; this is what you’ll use for recording audio, editing audio, and all sorts of exciting functions.

Find out more about our Level 3 Music Production course in this video.

E – Event Editor

A DAW editor window which enables the editing of individual MIDI events using text.

F – Fader

The component on a mixing desk which adjusts the channel level. Faders are also emulated in DAWs.

G – Garageband

Available on iPhones, iPads, and other Apple products, Garageband is an entry level DAW (other DAWs are available…).

H – High Shelf

A type of equalisation which allows the engineer to remove all frequencies below a defined frequency, allowing the higher frequencies to pass.

I – Isolation

Limiting the amount of sound which can pass from one space to another. For example, sound isolation would be recommended to prevent road noise from outside entering a recording studio so that the noise isn’t recorded.

J – Jack Connector

A male connector commonly used in patch bays, line level equipment, and guitar connections.

K – KBPS

Kilobits per second.

L – Logic Pro

Another DAW originally created by a company called C-Lab. It’s now owned by Apple.

M – Mini Jack

Not Jack Connector’s younger brother, but a jack connector with a diameter of 3.5mm and most commonly used by consumer headphones.

music production

Music Production can open DAWs for you.

N – Normalisation

The process of increasing the overall volume of a track.

O – Operating System

The software installed on a computer which controls its most basic functions. This is the graphic user interface that the user interacts with.

P – Producer

This is the person who typically leads the music recording project. Think Quincy Jones, Mark Ronson, Missy Elliott.

quincy-jones

You can read about some of the most influential producers of the 21st century HERE.

Q – Quantise

Quantising is used to artificially fix parts of the track, correct errors, and add swing. This may detract from the organic sound of the recording and add a sense of artificiality to the recording.

R – Recording Studio

A room or complex of rooms which is used to record sound.

S – Surround Sound

An audio format which uses more than two speakers, arranged around the listener to provide a more realistic environment.

T – Transport

The controls of a DAW which enable the user to play, stop, pause, fast forward, rewind, and record.

music production coursework edition book covers

RSL’s Music Production exams are available from grades 1 through to 8.

U – Unison

When two or more instruments play the same an identical line of music simultaneously.

V – Voltage Controlled Oscillator

An oscillator (sound generator) whose pitch can be controlled via voltage variation.

W – Woofer

A speaker which is designed to producer lower frequencies.

We spoke to producer, Danton Supple, to hear his thoughts on the merits of studying music production.

X – XLR Connector

A balanced connection, used in most professional level equipment. The standard connection for microphones. Also referred to as a cannon connector.

Y – YouTube

The biggest social network in the world. An online video streaming service provided by Google where you can find all sorts of new music.

Z – Zedd

Zedd is a Russian-German DJ who neatly completes our A-Z. He’s worked with Lady Gaga, Ariana Grande, and Selena Gomez, and primarily produces electro house music.

PLEASE NOTE: THE MUSIC PRODUCTION ENTRY DEADLINE IS SET FOR 30TH MAY 2021! THINK YOU’RE READY?

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A Brief History of Music Production

April 12th, 2021 by

The first known audio recording was made in 1860, and a lot has changed in 160 years! This week we’ll be delving into the history of music production, and thinking about how general trends have changed along the way.

Make music, not war

The two World Wars in the first half of the twentieth century accelerated advancements in technology across the world as nations competed to one-up each other. Radio communication played a key role in the military, and it was only a matter of time before it was commercialised, with families turning to their radios as the main source of entertainment.

The first radio advertisement was rolled out in 1923, and music became increasingly popular during the bleakness of WWII. The increase in advertising on radio meant that stations now had larger budgets, and could pay for music with their newly acquired funds.

As music became more widely available and popular, it was inevitably commercialised. Big record labels held a monopoly on the music industry, and arguably still do, albeit to a lesser extent. Labels would identify potentially successful artists on their way to the top and provide them with the necessary resources to record their music in the hopes that some of the artists would become stars.

However, this is becoming an increasingly outdated paradigm as increasing numbers of artists are recording and producing their own music. Not only this, but even the way that people record and produce has changed.

Moving away from the studio

Arguably the most significant change in music production is that artists no longer require a studio to record. Previously, sessions at recording studios would take place at great expense. Music would be recorded in a live performance while producers simultaneously mixed the music.

As technology rapidly evolved in the 50s and 60s, there was a shift from live-mixing to multitrack recording. This meant that recordings could now be mixed after the initial session had ended, and that parts could be recorded on individual tracks before being mixed and compiled into one holistic tune.

A base track featuring the rhythm section could now be recorded in an initial session before vocals were recorded and added in over the top. Horns and string sections could also be recorded separately in separate takes. The ability to record multiple takes has revolutionised studio time for musicians, and made a meticulous, perfectionist approach possible.

The role of the music producer

Advances in technology are undoubtedly influential, and the music producer’s role has changed during that time too. The artist formerly relied on the producer to provide a critical eye and know the technical side of recording but they were expected to keep a distance from the creative process. This has now changed, as artists can produce their own material independently, and producers can be just as important to the creative process as band members.

Quincy Jones is one of the most successful producers and band leaders of all time. When working with Frank Sinatra, Sinatra would often introduce Quincy to the audience to ensure he received appropriate recognition for his efforts. This was a pivotal moment in celebrating the producer’s importance, as artists sought to collaborate with producers just as much as other bands and singers.

quincy-jones
Quincy Jones is one of the biggest names in production, working with everyone from Michael Jackson to Count Basie.

Sometimes the producer will even overshadow the artist, and the singer or band that formerly hogged the limelight will be a secondary attraction to the producer. Timbaland produced some of the biggest hits of the 00s and released two albums under his own name.

The albums, ‘Shock Value’ and ‘Shock Value II’, featured the likes of Nelly Furtado, Justin Timberlake, and OneRepublic. Although by the release of ‘Shock Value II’ Timbaland had fallen slightly behind the likes of David Guetta in the production stakes, his name as the primary artist on the album pointed to the newfound importance and creative power displayed by producers.

Read more about some of the most influential music producers of the 21st century HERE.

Honey, I shrunk the studio

The size of the technology needed to record successful albums has radically decreased over time. There is now no need for an elaborate studio, and artists can mix and even create music on laptops.

DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) rule the roost now, and put the laptop at the core of music production for the time being at least. Streaming is the main way in which we hear new music, and the internet is the main channel through which it is distributed. But this may change sooner than we think…

music production coursework edition book covers

PLEASE NOTE: THE MUSIC PRODUCTION ENTRY DEADLINE IS SET FOR 30TH MAY 2021! THINK YOU’RE READY?

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Most Influential Music Producers of the 21st Century

November 26th, 2020 by

Performers often get all the credit for their hits, but in a lot of cases they work with incredibly talented producers who strive for perfection and push the artist’s music to the next level. This week we’re thinking about some of the most influential producers of the 21st century and the effect they’ve had on music.

Are you studying towards your Rockschool Music Production graded music exam? You can enter for you exam by hitting the button below!

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Rick Rubin

Rick made his name towards the end of the twentieth century after he founded Def Jam records while still at high school. He went on to work with some of the music industry’s biggest names, and was named “the most important producer of the past 20 years” by MTV in 2007. Though some of his most well-recognised work took place before the turn of the millennium, he was twice recognised as Producer of the Year at the Grammys, in 2007 and 2009, for his work that encourages a stripped-back style that contributes to heightening the emotional power of his work.

Rick has worked with some of the biggest names in pop, including Adele.

Missy Elliott

The first female rapper in the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a highly successful artist in her own right, Missy Elliott’s work as a producer may go under the radar. All the same, it is important to recognise her as one of the key figures in launching many major stars’ careers. Her own work as a recording artist caught the eye of Thom Yorke and Damon Albarn due to her genre-bending, avant-garde approach. Her production career spans almost 30 years, during which she has collaborated with Eminem, Janet Jackson, and even Michelle Obama, cementing her position as one of the most influential musicians of this century.

Mark Ronson

Cover star of our Grade 6 book, Mark Ronson started out as a DJ while studying at NYU and quickly became one of the most sought after producers in the industry. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in the business: Bruno Mars, Lily Allen, and Lady Gaga to name a few. His ability to create a classic sound filled with horns that still feels fresh to a modern audience is unparalleled, as evidenced by the enduring success of his work on Amy Winehouse’s album, ‘Back to Black’, and the smash hit ‘Uptown Funk’ which saw him and Bruno Mars break record after record (if you’ll pardon the pun…).

Timbaland

Last year Timbaland released his Masterclass series where he imparted his knowledge about production in a series of online tutorials. He certainly kept himself busy in the 2010s by working on some of the leading singles from Justin Timberlake’s ‘The 20/20 Experience’ as well as Michael Jackson’s ‘Love Never Felt So Good’. However it was the mid-00s when he was at his peak – this was a time when the charts were seemingly filled with Timbaland-produced tunes. His own album, ‘Shock Value’ spawned several hits, perhaps most notably the track ‘Apologize’, which featured OneRepublic, transforming them into global stars.

Avicii

Citing Daft Punk and Eric Prydz as influences, Avicii’s untimely death in 2018 closed the curtain on what had been a meteoric rise to the top for the Swedish producer. The song that launched his career into the mainstream, ‘Levels’, fused EDM and country music in a way that has been replicated by many artists since. This tune achieved Top 10 status in many European countries on its release, and topped the charts in Hungary, Norway, and his native Sweden.

David Guetta

David Guetta’s early days (and nights!) in music were spent DJing at nightclubs. He grew up in Paris and discovered house music in the late ‘80s, so his rise to being recognised as one of the biggest producers around was a gradual process. He received recognition from his peers, but really exploded onto the international scene in 2009 with two of the biggest songs of the decade. First was ‘I Gotta Feeling’ by the Black Eyed Peas. This became the most downloaded song of all time and topped the charts in 17 countries. The same summer saw the release of Guetta’s own track ‘When Love Takes Over’, featuring Kelly Rowland. His status was secured as one of the most sought after producers in pop.

Linda Perry

Linda Perry started from humble beginnings as a songwriter juggling multiple jobs when she moved to San Francisco in 1986. Fast forward to 2020 and she has been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and was nominated for the ‘Producer of the Year: Non-Classical’ Grammy award in 2019. P!nk released her second album, ‘Missundaztood’, in 2001, and it was Perry’s work on production and songwriting on this album that saw her stock soar. She went on to write ‘Beautiful’ for Christina Aguilera, and work with Alicia Keys on ‘Superwoman’, so there was no way we could ignore her when making this list!

Kanye West

Love him or loathe him, there’s no doubting Kanye West’s credentials as a producer. Hugely successful as a performer and writer in his own right, his production credits include the likes of Drake, John Legend, and Mary J. Blige, while he also worked with Alicia Keys and Ludacris in the early ’00s. In his own music he has more recently opted for a more stripped back approach, but this does not mean he has lost the meticulous, studious edge that made Kanye, Kanye.

More resources

Opening DAWs – Home Learning through Music Technology

April 16th, 2020 by

Opening DAWs – Home Learning through Music Technology

People are always looking for innovative ways to stay entertained, engaged and learning, so at RSL Awards we thought we’d offer a bit of help and support for people looking at the best way to harness the technology available at home.

We’ve spoken to some of our friends in the music industry and picked out ways to help both teachers looking for lesson-planning ideas and students looking to learn independently. As an awarding body, we do not endorse any single product but have identified free resources from Steinberg, Ableton, Bandlab and VIP Studios which you might find useful. Here are our top 5 tips for getting started


Click here, fill out a form, and we will send you a FREE digital copy of one of the Rockschool Graded Music Production books!


1. Work out your own skill level

The Rockschool Music Production syllabus runs from Grade 1 – 8 and 60% of the exam at each grade is a creative composition task which you can complete in your own time. These tasks combine musical knowledge with production know-how and gradually build in complexity so you can develop all the theoretical and practical skills you need to be able write your own music and work towards a nationally-recognised qualification at the same time. The other 40% trains your ear and teaches you the things you need to know to be able to work as a producer and is supported by the Music Production (coursework) exam book which is full of vital information. This blog tells you how the course is structured so you can see how it develops all the skills you need to be a producer over time.

2. Think of your Tech as the Ultimate Musical Instrument

At BBC introducing, Laurie Vincent of Slaves stated that ‘the laptop was the new guitar’. In the same way that the guitar used to be the ‘go to’ instrument to write your next song, now it’s the laptop. Most devices are able to run a variety of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs) and these enable you to select pretty much any musical instrument you want and start creating music almost immediately. As with any musical instrument, there are things that are natural for that instrument to play and things that aren’t. Listen to your favourite tracks and focus on what role each instrument has. Is it part of the melody, the bassline, the rhythm or something else?

Once you’ve worked this out, you’ll be able to select the right instrument for the job.
Ableton have created a series of sessions which you can access on any computer with an internet connection and standard audio.

Their FREE Learning Music series has practical topics on Beats; Notes and Scales; Chords; Melody; Bass; Song Structure and more which are a great introduction to the Music Production coursework tasks at grades 1 – 3.

Their FREE Learning Synths series takes you through the basics of modifying sounds using synths, including ADSR, Oscillators, LFOs and Filters. These are a great resource to support learning for Rockschool Music Production at Grades 3 and upwards.
The projects you start to experiment with in these hands-on tutorials can then be exported as Ableton Live Sets.

3. Harness the Creative Power of your Tech

Once you’ve worked out where your skill level is, you can start to develop these while plugging any gaps in your knowledge as you go along. To work through the Music Production grades and to develop as a musician, you’ll need to install a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW).

Cubase LE

is a free DAW which works on both Mac and PC. The first 250 people to purchase a Rockschool Music Production book at Grades 1 – 3 will also get a code to download Cubase LE by following the instructions HERE. When you’re ready to notate your work, you can also download Dorico SE for free HERE.

Cubase LE is the entry level product and you can also download Cubase Elements on a free 30 day trial HERE.
Your school may be using Cubase Artist or Pro, in which case you could ask to borrow the school’s elicenser dongle so you can access this from home.
Steinberg’s Dom Sigalas has also created a video tutorial here which shows you how to use the different functions of Cubase LE.

Inclusive Music

Inclusive Music are giving away a FREE version of their Bandlab for Schools for as long as we are in Coronavirus lockdown. Here you will find 24 video tutorials, 38 PDFs and 15 quizzes covering how to learn the skills to start making music using technology across 100 different musical styles. These include Hip Hop, Trap, Grime and R’n’B and everything can be accessed directly from your Chrome web browser. The team at Inclusive Music have also created a walkthrough of the Rockschool Music Production grade 1 coursework task so you can see an example of how the Rockschool grades work with a DAW.

Ableton

have been inspired by the determination of teachers to keep music education going and so they’ve reset their entry level Live 10 Trial access and extended it to 90 days. This means that anyone can use the trial version, even if they’ve used it before and will automatically extend. The trial period will remain at 90 days as long as necessary and they have said that they will continue to evaluate the needs of teachers who are working remotely

4. Collaborate Safely

Music is something you can work on independently but, ultimately, is an artform and a language which you want to share with other people. As you produce your work, make sure that you are careful to only share it through secure and trusted channels as advised by your teachers and parents. We’ve also identified two ways that you can collaborate with others on your music projects in a safe environment.

VIP Studios

The team at VIP specialise in online collaboration for students and schools and any organisation with a Charanga license should be fairly familiar with the range of tutorials and projects on offer. These tie in really well with the Rockschool Music Production grades and they have recently launched a rap-writing competition. As a teacher, you can access a trial version of VIP Studio Sessions for 30 days.

Bandlab

As Bandlab for Schools operates exclusively online, you can access, save and share your files securely using your own log-in. Once you’ve completed your work, you can then connect to a community of other users worldwide who are all using the secure Bandlab platform to make sure you can share your work and collaborate safely.

5. Structure Your Learning and Get Advice

The Rockschool Music Production graded exams provide you with the opportunity to gain a nationally-recognised qualification, benchmarked at particular levels, to promote the skills you have developed as a producer. Over the coming weeks, Bandlab, Steinberg and Ableton are all adding content to support you on their own websites and contact details and further advice on using their products can be found at the bottom of this blog.

Students:

As a student, the advice and guidance in this blog will help if you check in with the experts for advice and guidance. Use our Teacher Registry to find a Music Production teacher in your area. You may also find these courses from our partners at Music Gurus useful.

Teacher-Reg-Display-Ad-728x90

Classroom Teachers:

As a classroom teacher, you can use these resources as a stimulus to set some structured
home learning as well as checking out this resource which is being updated on a regular basis and includes a useful blog on Teaching Using Cubase 10.5.

Independent Teachers:

Music Production lends itself well to being taught online through one-to-one teaching and this could be a great time to add it to your portfolio. Check out our guide to teaching online here.

Mark Hutchinson and John Calcott have been delivering Rockschool Music Production to students over the last twelve months through Northamptonshire Music and Performing Arts and have given us this useful advice:

“Music Production lends itself particularly well to online learning given that even when lessons are face to face we still spend 90% of the time looking at a computer screen so why not do this remotely? I will be spending the coming days looking in to using many of the leading DAW programs like Logic, Cubase, Protools and Ableton online through screen sharing, the setting of assignments and remote access software in order to give the pupil the most seamless experience possible. For me these are very exciting times to be teaching Music Production…” (Mark Hutchinson – producer, teacher and record label owner).

Setting the scene when teaching a video lesson:

  • Try and have a plain, neutral background
  • No personal paraphernalia in the shot
  • Keep camera at head height or focused on musical instrument
  • Invest in a tripod and mount for your device
  • Wear smart clothes with your organisation’s logo clearly visible
  • Keep away from windows, for both lighting and privacy issues

Click here for further information on how to teach music online…

Video Conferencing Software

Zoom

After a lot of testing with my fellow peri teachers we all agree that zoom is the best software. Give it a try for yourself, you can do screen sharing, virtual whiteboard, text chat and even virtually change your background!

Microsoft Teams

This has a nice professional feel and is good for business conference calls as it ties in with office 365.

FaceTime

This is a viable option for teaching with but of course it is dependant on everyone having an Apple device.

Skype

I’ve personally not tried Skype however there’s no denying its popularity. I’ve heard some teachers claim there are latency issues but this could just be down to bandwidth issues.

Offline Video Editing

DaVinci Resolve

This software is free and mind blowing! I highly recommend it, you need a fairly powerful machine but otherwise it’s a fully featured piece of video editing software.

Final Cut Pro X

If you are on Mac then this is a no brainer purchase. It’s pro level with tons of support and tutorials out there.

Screen Capture Software

OBS

This is your best and free option for PC, the only downside is that it’s tricky to use and takes a bit of setting up.

Screenflow

On Mac this will do a great job as will good old QuickTime.

Use Rockschool Music Production for Free!

Simply fill out the form below and we will send you a FREE digital copy of one of the Graded Music Production books

     
    Job Role (required)

     
    Organisation/School Name

     
    Music Production Teaching Experience (required)

     
    I would like to receive a download code for Cubase LE
    YesNo

     
    I would like to sign-up for regular updates via the RSL Newsletter (required)

     
    I would like to receive the following Music Production Grade Book

     


    Contact Details and Further Advice:

    Ableton:
    Get help via their Knowledge Base
    Click here if you are completely new to Ableton
    To get started, download the Ableton Live 10 Trial here

    Instructions for the installation and authorization can be found here
    Interested in remote working with Ableton Live?

    Cubase:
    Richard Llewellyn (UK Education Manager) for Steinberg can be contacted at r.llewellyn@steinberg.de

    To help with installation and activation, this video may help

    Click here to find out the difference between Cubase programs.
    Expert advice and interviews
    Digital book from one of Steinberg’s Certified Trainers, Darren Jones: Complete Guide to Music Technology using Cubase 10.5’

    Bandlab:
    Help pages can be found here…

    Getting Industry Ready – Working in a Recording Studio

    August 2nd, 2019 by

    Being a Music Producer can mean many things and you’ll probably work in lots of different environments. In this blog, we’re going to show you how Rockschool’s Music Production grades can help you prepare for working in a recording studio.

    You might find yourself sitting with your laptop and a pair of headphones mixing and editing your latest work or you may find yourself in a studio working out how to get the best sound out of the musicians you’re working with.

    Professional Scenarios

    The coursework tasks are creative tasks that get you working with a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) and, at grade 1, look at how you, as a producer, are getting prepared for working with an artist by making sure that everything you are doing is clearly organised and in time. By working out how to write music that goes with a background set of chords, you can then work out ‘guide’ or ‘ghost’ tracks which another musician can listen to so they get an idea of what sound you want to produce.

    By the time you get to Grade 8, you get to specialise and, as an EDM (Electronic Dance Music) producer, you might be sent a track that a singer has recorded into their phone and sent across to you so you can turn it into a full-scale dance track. Some of the greatest collaborations of recent years have started life like this. By the time you get to grade 8, you will have learnt how to use all sorts of techniques and skills to be able to add depth and space to their line and to add all sorts of other things to it. You can do this using any software and then apply your knowledge to working with the software that might be in the studio you go and work in.

    Theory

    Professional Recording Studios are filled with all sorts of equipment and knowing how they work, what they are for and how they work with other bits of equipment is pretty vital. When you’re working with a band, you’re going to need to know what microphones to use and where to put them but you’ll also need to know what cable to use and where to plug it in so you can get the best sound to work on. For example, when and how might you need to ‘balance a signal’? The graded exams take you through all of this gradually and also explain some of the old formats for recording, storing and sharing musical data so you can feel totally confident about what’s in front of you when you get into a studio.

    Interested in a career in production? Fancy yourself as a producer, studio engineer or sound designer? Check out our list of careers that a music production qualification could help you achieve…

    Listening

    The best instrument you’ve got as a musician is your ears and, as a producer, it’s important that you can work out what instrument or track needs to be the most prominent or how to ‘fine tune’ its sound. Preparation for the listening paper helps you understand how to do this and how to recognise it in the work of other musicians. It also takes you through how different scales, chords and other features are used in particular styles so you can know how to use them yourself and collaborate with others to help them find their distinctive sound. Your increased knowledge will also help to identify and correct any mistakes that might have been made along the way.

    To find out more about Music Production, including how to buy a book or where to take an exam, check out our website here…

    Careers in Music Production

    June 7th, 2019 by

    Are you thinking about a career in Music Production but not sure about what path to take or what options are available? Have no fear we have you covered!

    People immediately presume that if you’re studying music production your goal is to become a big producer, making tracks in collaboration with the world’s greatest artists’. Of course, if that’s your goal, you should back yourself and put all the work in necessary to make your dream come true – but just like any other career-path, there are actually a myriad of specialised roles that each make up a vital part of the contemporary music making process.

    With a focus on a diverse range of production techniques, industry relevant DAW skills, and fundamental music theory, Rockschool Music Production grades provide learners with helpful tools of communication that will support the development of working relationships with potential colleagues and collaborators in the field. Below you’ll find a few that might of interest to some of your budding music-makers reading this. Remember, you’re not limited to one! In fact, the more you can diversify your skillsets to apply yourself to multiple functions of music production, the more desirable you’ll be.

    Each of the coursework tasks in the Rockschool Music Production books have been written by a top music professional as an industry relevant brief that students can complete at their own pace and inject with their own identity, around any of their current commitments.

    Tim Bennett-Hart, Director of Academic

    Music Producer

    Everyone is very familiar with the title Music Producer, which can also be defined as a record producer or track producer. This is an essential role as it involves managing a music production or recording for a song or an album. It is also a varied  role which includes conducting ideas, composing music, directing the artist overseeing and controlling recording sessions.


    Some great insight about breaking into the industry from Danton Supple (Elbow, Coldplay, Ian Brown and many more)

    Audio Technician

    Audio Technicians also known as live-sound/audio/vocal/mastering engineer looks after the sound process of the project. Working closely with artists and producers to ensure best quality and desired sound is delivered. Responsibilities include; editing, setting up and repairing recording equipment and developing recording devices to ensure project runs smoothly.

    Recording Studio Manager

    Studio Managers look after the operations aspect which includes managing and booking studio sessions, ensuring that required equipment is available, negotiating studio time prices and promoting studio for rent. This involves working closely with artists, producers, band managers interested in using studio time.

    Most recording studio Managers either own the studios or are specifically hired for the role. This role doesn’t necessarily need technical knowledge as it’s operations based and qualified engineers are hired to review equipment.

    Sound Designer

    Sound designers also known as sound/special effects editors involves recording, editing, acquiring and generating audio elements and managing the soundscape of a recording project. Sound designers determine the best sound to use for a project and can go into multiple fields such as TV & film, Music recording and radio.

    Instrument Tech

    An Instrument Tech also known as an Instrument specialist is responsible for maintaining, setting up and using musical instruments for production projects such as tours and concerts. Understanding of electronic systems and software along with practical skills is vital if you are planning to become an Instrument Tech.

    Sound Mixer

    The sound mixer manages the volume of the sound and quality of a recording/audio and mainly work on live music productions as they are required to make necessary adjustments before audio is made live. If you are considering becoming a Sound Mixer you are required to have technical knowledge in using sound mixing devices.

    Radio Broadcast Engineer

    A Radio Broadcast Engineer looks after the maintenance, repairs and operations of the sound equipment for radio stations. Expertise in using broadcasting devices such as computers systems found in radio booths are essential for this role.

    Digital Audio Editor

    Digital Audio Editors are responsible for making digital audits which include mixing, cutting, cleaning and making an overall tone for a production. They work very closely with directors during and post production choosing appropriate sound effects, manipulating dialogues and re-shooting sounds.

    If you’d like to take a look into studying via Rockschool’s Music Production material, simply click on the links below to review the Syllabus Guide, purchase your book or even enter for your first exam!

    LEARN MORE

    My First Studio Session

    May 31st, 2019 by

    It is becoming increasingly likely, due to the growing influence of technology in music, that more musicians than ever before will want to control and create as much of their creative output as possible.

    You might be playing with your first band, writing your first song; or maybe you want to collaborate on something completely new. The time has come where you want turn all of those ideas into tangible recordings. But how do you go about that? What does it involve? Scary, huh?

    Well, it doesn’t have to be! Below you will find MGR Music‘s Leigh Fuge’s five top tips for what you can do before you even step into a recording session:

    1. Know Your Parts

    This should be obvious, but you’d be surprised how many recording sessions are derailed by musicians not being fully ready to perform their parts. Before you even step foot in the studio, know your parts and arrangements inside out. Learn it and play it over and over so you can’t possibly get it wrong.

    2. Rehearse and Make Decisions

    Chances are, you’re going into your first studio session with your band or earliest collaborators. Ideally, you have already made your decisions on song arrangements. For example, if you have two guitar players: be sure both players know what they are doing and exactly what they are expected to play. Pre-studio rehearsals are a great way to analyse your songs and make any important tweaks before you begin the recording process. You can do this in the studio, but you’ll be eating into valuable time that is best used actually recording.

    Find out more about studying Rockschool’s Music Production syllabus

    3. Practise to a Metronome

    This is something everyone involved should be individually, so that when you work in a recording session collectively, it’s as smooth as humanly possible. The days of a band recording live in a room are gone and most small studios aren’t set up for this anyway. The modern studio methods are those of recording instrument by instrument to a click-track. Work out your tempos in your rehearsals using a metronome app with tap tempo. This will help you get used to playing the track at an even tempo without speeding up or slowing down, which you might do when playing with a drummer in the room without even noticing. Rockschool has always produced backing tracks with and without click-tracks, just for this reason.

    4. Look at Your Arrangements

    Are your songs arranged in a way that serves them well? Do you really need to loop that riff 16 times before the verse kicks in? These discussions can help you look objectively at your track and consider if there is anything you can trim, or add, to enhance or streamline the arrangement of a song. A really helpful exercise is to compare your song arrangements to similar artists/songs, in order to get a clear idea of what has worked successfully before. You don’t have to copy verbatim, but as a student of music you should always take the opportunity to learn from work you connect with.

    5. Prepare Your Instruments

    If you’re a guitarist or bassist, restring your guitar, stretch the strings and check the intonation. (don’t forget to take a tuner with you!). Drummers, remember to tune your drums and reskin your kit if needed. Be sure to break in the new skins before you record. Vocalists, warm up your vocal chords with some prepared exercises that work for you. Whatever your instrument, you can and should be fully prepared. Take a few amps, a few guitars, a few pedals and spare cables, strings and other parts/kit you might want to use. You will (probably) need a range of tones available to you to make your recording session sound huge so go in prepared for all eventualities.

    Most of all: enjoy your session! Recording is a lot of fun if you’re ready to go from the start, which is why preparation is everything. The producers and engineers at the studio are there to make your visit easy, so you can get through as much as possible in the time you have available. The more prepared you are, the smoother the session will run, after all, time is money.


    The upcoming Rockschool Music Production exam entry deadline is fast approaching. Get your entries in by 12th June!

    ENTER YOUR MUSIC PRODUCTION EXAM NOW


    About the Author:

    This article has been written for Rockschool on behalf of MGR Music by Leigh Fuge, a professional guitarist, tutor and journalist from Wales in the UK. He has been working in the music industry for over 10 years as a touring and studio musician with various artists, guitar tutor and writer for many high profile guitar publications. Read more of Leigh’s pieces relating to Rockschool here…

    Music Production Deadline Reminder

    January 29th, 2019 by

    Music Production Entry Deadline – 13th February!

    The Music Production entry deadline is fast approaching! Hit the buttons below for more information on booking your exam and where to find your nearest exam centre.

    BOOK AN EXAM…

    FIND A CENTRE…

    The skills developed through studying Grades 3, 4 and 5 can be used to support work at GCSE or an RSL VQ certificate and, if you continue onto Grades 6, 7 and 8, you can also gain valuable UCAS Points for entry into University.

    LEARN MORE ABOUT MuSIC PRODUCTION…

    If you want to find out more about the possibility of hosting an exam at your school or music centre as part of a private exam day, click the link here and get in touch with a member of our team…