With SOUNDCHECK, a monthly workshop series on modern music technology, Columbia students have gained a new, free opportunity to explore their musical interests.
The series is organized by CU Records, a student-run group dedicated to providing a recording space for Columbia’s student musicians, and NOISE212, a private company that functions as a collective of New York DJs, offering training for other up-and-coming DJs and music producers.
Both groups hope that SOUNDCHECK will provide Columbia students with an opportunity to learn from experts about the latest in music technology.
The first workshop, centering on the music production software Ableton, was geared equally toward novices and music technology veterans. Ben Casey, a certified Ableton instructor and music technology consultant with clients ranging from Q-Tip to Maroon 5, led the workshop, explaining the fundamentals of Ableton before illustrating the latest musical possibilities of its newest software. Once his presentation ended, students spent time trying out the software for themselves with free demos on their laptops.
This process of educating students and encouraging them to experiment with music technology gets to the heart of what CU Records and NOISE212 are hoping to achieve with their SOUNDCHECK series, according to Jamie Solis, one of the leaders behind NOISE212.
“SOUNDCHECK is our way of introducing and providing access to industry-standard education for those who may not know where to get started or how to move forward with pursuing their musical interests,” Solis said.
Solis enrolled in Teachers College with an interest in music education and the changes created by modern music technology. However, in pursuing this interest, she was surprised to find that neither Teachers College nor Columbia offers many courses focusing on this aspect of modern music education.
“There continues to be a growing number of young laptop/bedroom producers putting out songs online,” Solis said. “So where are they learning? How do we build on this interest and provide the next generation of musicians with a solid foundation of music in the 21st century?”
Reaching out to CU Records and creating this series are strategies Solis and the rest of NOISE212 have used to address some of these questions. Through industry connections, NOISE212 can bring experts like Ben Casey to Columbia for presentations on their specialty.
While the first session was focused on Ableton, future sessions hold several interesting possibilities.
“We value students’ interests and rely on feedback surveys to help curate who we invite for future events, so that we stay as closely aligned to what the needs are,” Solis said. “From some of what I’ve read in the surveys so far, it seems that there is a strong interest in DJing, songwriting, and electronic music production.”
SOUNDCHECK’s next event is tentatively set for early February and will likely focus on exploring Serato, one of the leading softwares for DJing. Columbia students can reserve a spot online once the event goes public.