Setting up the Right Template for Students

As students try electronic based music for the first time with hardware it is important to set them up for success.  Music software and hardware can be daunting the first time.  As music instructors how can we set up templates so students can immediately feel the power of the equipment and the potential of their own creativity?

At our school we work with middle school students.  We use primarily Ableton with Maschine loaded as a plug-in.  I have found that loading up a drum kit on Maschine and having a classic sounding synth, keyboard or piano loaded on Ableton is most effective in giving students an immediate sense of awe and inspiration.  With both track armed in Ableton students get the excitement of playing a drum pad and getting a quality drum sound which almost always surprises them in a positive way.  When they reach to the Novation Launchkey they play a note and get a nice sounding synth.  Psychologically they already feel success just by playing the simple notes, and hearing the sounds.  For many of them this is the first time they have played with music in this way.

Important aspects to consider are:

  • what is the age group of the students?
  • what software and hardware do you have access to?

Although this is a simple template it seems to work well in accomplishing the goal of scaffolding students for success. What are some templates you have found that have worked out well when working with students?