Berkleemusic has so many incredibly talented, dedicated instructors including LA producer, Erik Hawkins. Recently, Erik was interviewed by Mix Magazine on his work with Berkleemusic. The following excerpt didn’t make it into the piece but is filled with some great information, so I thought I’d share it with the Berkleemusic community.
What courses do you teach for Berkleemusic?
EH: Music production courses. For example, Pro Tools 110, Producing Music with Reason, and Remixing with Pro Tools and Reason. I’m the course author and instructor of Producing Music with Reason and Remixing with Pro Tools and Reason.
What are some of the ways you approach designing an online curriculum?
EH: As an online course author, I strive to keep the class content both accessible and interesting to all levels of students. It’s exciting that in one class there can be students at a variety of skill levels all working on the same lesson. So, in order to accommodate these different skill levels and keep things challenging for everybody, I offer a variety of ways to learn the material. Students who are new to music production can jump in at the basic level with videos and interactive Flash workshops, while more advanced students can dive into discussion questions at more length and tackle the extra challenge portion of a weekly assignment. There’s something for every level and you can pick and choose the materials within a lesson that best suit your personal goals for the topics presented.
Can you give me an example of how the scope of an assignment might address different levels?
EH: In the courses that I’ve developed for Berkleemusic, I spend the first few weeks making sure that everybody understands the basics of the music software programs that we’ll be working with. This frees up the remaining weeks for getting creative, using the new production techniques introduced in each weekly lesson for actually producing music. For example, beginning in week eight of the Producing Music with Reason course, students start writing and producing their own song that I expect them to have completed, mixed and mastered, by the end of week twelve of the course. And, in my Remixing with Pro Tools and Reason course, students complete three remix sketches as a warm up for producing a full length remix beginning in week seven.
It’s an intense ride but there’s no better way to hone your music production chops than to apply the production techniques that I’m teaching in the lessons to actual projects. And, throughout this process students receive feedback from myself and their fellow classmates. It’s really an amazing learning environment.
How have you seen the Berkleemusic program evolve during your tenure there?
EH: From my perspective, the Berkleemusic team is continually pushing forward and never content to simply rest on their laurels. They’re constantly improving the online tools for teaching and reaching students, and they seem to be steadily rolling out exciting new courses. I myself have participated in much beta testing for new course material, Web site and chat tools. And, I am personally responsible for keeping my own course material fresh and up to date. So, yes, I think it’s safe to say that we are continually evolving to both improve upon the online college, to meet our student’s needs, and, in my case, to keep up with cutting edge music production techniques.
I know you’ve been teaching online for a few years. How has the way you teach online evolved since you started out?
EH: Much like the Berkleemusic development team, I’m continually refining how I teach online in an effort to improve upon my lessons and to offer students more quality material. For example, I realized very early on that everybody learns differently, so I’m always working on ways to deliver a lesson topic in a variety of forms. I’ll explain the same production technique in a detailed description, with screen shots, a video, a step-by-step exercise, and an interactive Flash quiz. I’m counting on one of these ways clicking with the student. And, if the student still has questions, I’m available for further explanation through private messaging, text chatting, and, more recently, video chats with screen sharing.
When you think about it, there’s really no end to what we can accomplish online as Internet technologies and access improves around the world. It’s pretty astounding.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
EH: I can’t even begin to tell you what a blast it is to work with aspiring music producers all over the world. In one class I might have a high school senior in Michigan, an attorney in Alaska, a recording studio manager in Japan, and a US serviceperson stationed in the Middle East. Everybody has come together online, at Berkleemusic, to learn and to collaborate on music. Consequently, the energy in our online courses is great, very positive and nurturing. It’s really wonderful to be a part of this and to help foster this sort of energy in my classes.
Finally, I’d be leaving an important piece of the puzzle out if I didn’t mention that I get to do all this from the comfort of my own home studio here in Los Angeles. I think that because I’m also a working composer and music producer here in LA that I’m able to offer a unique perspective on the business to my students who may be, geographically, very distant. I’m a happy camper composing and producing tracks here in LA and sharing my experiences and knowledge with my students online and I think that this positive energy comes through in my classes and online interactions. I don’t think there’s any substitute for this sort of genuine enthusiasm and real-world experience. A couple of other working pros here in LA that also teach for Berkleemusic include, composer Ben Newhouse, author of Orchestration 1 and 2, and producer/engineer David Franz, author of Producing with Pro Tools and Recording and Producing in the Home Studio.