Advanced Pro Tools Techniques

This was completed as a final project for my master of music degree in digital music pedagogy.  The purpose of this project was to create a course that demonstrates online teaching techniques. This project was presented to and accepted by Dr. Judith Bowman, Professor Bill Purse, and Professor Lynn Purse at Duquesne University in April of 2009. The full text link includes the summary of the project, the syllabus for the course, and select lesson outlines. The summary can be viewed below.

Advanced Pro Tools Techniques Summary
Jonathan Gunnell

The purpose of the Advanced Pro Tools Techniques course is to help give students the crucial knowledge and skills that will be required of them as emerging recording engineers.  Since its release in 1991, Pro Tools has grown to be the leading digital audio software in the music business all over the world. Having an in depth knowledge and understanding of several different uses of Pro Tools will benefit users in various areas of music. Students will be guided through several projects as a class and on a one-on-one basis with the instructor to insure they are receiving the knowledge they seek within specific aspects of the program.

I purposely chose to incorporate in-class recording and mixing projects to not only ensure that all of the students are working together on the same group project at the same pace, but also to increase competition between the students. The recording industry is an incredibly competitive field; giving the students the same tools to work with and encouraging completely different results from each individual student will help them to learn from each other in a friendly but competitive manner.

The lessons for this course are broken down into specific aspects and uses of Pro Tools. Each lesson is accompanied by a corresponding individual project for the students to complete before the start of the following session. The first assignment is simply an online quiz to be taken in class on Blackboard. This quiz is made up of 10 basic questions about the layout of Pro Tools and the function of various buttons. All of the questions are taken directly out of the lesson plan and the readings assigned to the students. This quiz will be very helpful in giving me, as the instructor, an idea of where the students stand at the beginning of the course. I chose to make the first actual project an assignment that most students will have experienced in previous music technology and audio courses.  This project is a sequencing project dealing with MIDI, software synthesis, and using external applications such as Reason along with Pro Tools.

The third individual project deals with Pro Tools-specific applications such as Beat Detective and Elastic Audio. Internal devices like these are part of what makes Pro Tools different from other popular digital audio workstations, and they are very powerful tools that every engineer can benefit from. This project is followed by a class recording session. This recording session plays a very important role in the rest of the course. As mentioned earlier, students are given two large final projects; one being a group project, and the other being an individual project. The recording session will provide students with hands-on recording experience with Pro Tools. I will encourage the students to be as creative as possible with this project. The goal is to produce the beginnings of a session that will provide the class with manageable audio files that can be used throughout the rest of the course for future assignments. The remainder of the lessons all revolve around the session produced during lesson four. The students will all be working with the same audio files but have the freedom to incorporate their own creativity into the project.

The second final project is also a full session from start to finish. This project, however, will be done completely on the student’s own time. I will make myself available to work on a one-on-one basis with any student interested in extra help with this and any other project.

In summary, this course gives students the knowledge in the functionality of Pro Tools they’ll need to survive in the industry, but more importantly, it helps them develop their skills in problem solving in recording and creating aesthetic projects. Because of similarities in the many professional digital audio production applications, all of the skills developed in this course can be applied to any other digital audio recording and production software. Read more…