Friday, December 11, 2015

Point Blank Music School: Week 1






As already announced last Sunday, I have been invited to participate in an online course at Point Blank Electronic Music School. This will be the first article in a series of 8, where I will share my experience and my progress during the course. Hopefully this will give you some insight into the structure of their online courses, but also if the learning provides any return on investment. Here's what you need to know first though:

I am not a musically trained person, I never took classes in learning an instrument or producing music. My knowledge on production comes solely from using Ableton Live 8 on a hobby level and watching a few Youtube tutorials every know and then. This often results in me having a lot of unfinished projects taking up space on my laptop, because my work either sounds like sh*t or because I don't have the creativity or musical skill to complete a track. However, now I am signed up for the Ableton Live 1: Production online course at Point Blank to hopefully conquer my own limitations.

About the course - Ableton Live 1: Production


As the title suggests this is a course focusing on Ableton. Currently I have been using Ableton Live 8, but for the course Ableton Live 9 is required. Although these two versions share a lot in terms of features, upgrading to Live 9 is something you should do to be able to participate in the feedback sessions you get during the course. In the final 8th week of the online course participants are asked to submit a piece of music that their tutor can evaluate and provide feedback on (more on that when I submit my track in the last week). Alongside the direct feedback on your own work, there are weekly masterclasses on the current curriculum. Point Blank has also newly added something they call 1-2-1, which is a private video chat session between you and the tutor, in order to answer specific questions or solve production challenges. Even when you're not in direct contact with the tutor, an online forum for the course participants is open 24/7 and it has turned out to be an excellent platform to exchange experiences, tips and tricks. The tutor also visits the forums daily to answer questions.

Masterclass Week 1 with Point Blank Instructor Freddy Cuin

Week 1: Beat Making with Impulse


  • Overview of Ableton
  • Browser: devices, session and arrange view
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Live packs
  • Drums: kits, Impulse, quantize, velocity tricks
  • Counting music: rhythm and tempo
  • Creating self contained projects


Week 1 can be characterised as an intro week, but it was a nice refresher on some of the basic functionality in Ableton Live. My previous knowledge on Ableton Live gave me a little head start on most subjects, but the slow start was good to help me get familiarised with Ableton Live 9. There were also some functionality I was not at all aware about and re-learning the basics of Ableton was actually really nice. The instructor Freddy Cuin did an excellent job during the first masterclass to engage every student over the chat and answer any questions on this weeks curriculum.

Speaking of curriculum, all the material becomes available as the course progresses. This week it was primarily about beat making with impulse. All instructions were very easy to read and understand. To further provide guidance, every topic also had one or more videos with direct instructions. These videos will be super helpful for me later on when things become more complex. They are great at providing visualisation of the reading material. The videos I had the opportunity to see so far were all much better than watching some random Youtube video, as they follow a certain structure and system that corresponds with the curriculum.

This weeks learning culminated with an assignment in setting up a virtual production studio. There will be assignments every week and the results will be evaluated by the online tutor.

Conclusion Week 1

Only one week has passed now, but first impressions were great! I really think Point Blank have done a great job in structuring the course. The live masterclass and chat was a good way to get introduced to the tutor and to set the expectations amongst the participants. People who are taking this course come from all around the world and have different backgrounds and skills. Some are DJs, others are classically trained, but don't know how Ableton works and then there are people who have already experience with producing and remixing. Everyone is represented in this +20 people online class and everyone gets heard.

I look forward to sharing my progress with all of you over the next few weeks :) Stay tuned!

More info on the course I am taking: CLICK HERE (via Point Blank).
Also visit Point Blank to see all their programs and offerings: www.pointblanklondon.com

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