This summer has been an exciting one for Avid. From our presence at the Olympics in Brazil to summer festivals and concerts, and our tools being used by recording artists in studios the world over, there’s something else that we’ve been extremely proud to be a part of over the last several summers: GRAMMY Camp. For the last 12 years, GRAMMY Camp has been not so quietly holding court in cities such as Los Angeles (where the camp first started), Nashville, New York and Minneapolis.
The camp gives a select number of high school students an opportunity to spend a week eating, breathing and living the music industry. The camp has evolved over the last several years, always making sure that campers leave not only better at their chosen craft, but with a much better understanding of the inner workings of the music industry so that they can better prepare themselves for success. All of the sessions are broken into classes called “tracks” which include: songwriting, instrumental performance, electronic music production, vocal performance, audio engineering, music journalism, music business and video production/motion graphics.
My involvement with GRAMMY Camp started eight years ago, when I was asked by Avid and The GRAMMY Foundation to attend camp in Los Angeles as a faculty member, teaching the electronic music production track. Up until this moment, my only experience as a teacher came as a private piano tutor for a few students while I was in college and as an assistant to my Sensei in jiu-jitsu, teaching the young kids’ classes. This was entirely different. The idea of taking my central role at Avid, as an ambassador for music creation in Pro Tools, to a group of high schoolers, most of whom had probably never used Pro Tools before, seemed daunting. But after receiving encouragement from members of the GRAMMY Foundation as well as friends and colleagues at Avid, I accepted the challenge.
It was a no-brainer to have Pro Tools at the center of the audio engineering track, being that it’s been the industry-standard DAW worldwide. But having Pro Tools at the center of a track focused specifically on electronic music creation was sure to cause alarm because most of these campers probably didn’t realize that Pro Tools features some of the most impressive music creation and MIDI features, in addition to it being the world’s best-sounding and most-powerful DAW for recording, editing and mixing audio. Yet here we are, eight years later, and the program continues to thrive and open the eyes of some of the most talented young people the world has ever known.
This year, the residential GRAMMY Camps took place in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, New York. The Los Angeles camp took place at the USC Thornton School of Music, from June 18 through June 27, with 12 students in my track. The Brooklyn-based New York camp took place at Converse’s Rubber Tracks Recording Studio from July 31 to Aug. 8, with four students in my track there.
I had the honor and pleasure of, once again, guiding some of the world’s most talented students on their path to become stronger electronic music producers and remixers. Pro Tools continues to be at the center of that journey. Avid provides licenses for all of the GRAMMY Camps (including the weekend one-day camps that happen at different sites all over the country). So what exactly goes into teaching young producers at GRAMMY Camp how to use Pro Tools for their music creation?
While my focus is working with these students in particular, there’s a very strong collaborative spirit between all of the tracks. Usually, my campers remix songs from more “traditional” genres, such as pop, rock and R&B, into electronic dance-floor masterpieces. They also collaborate, write and produce original pieces with vocalists and instrumentalists from other tracks. We spend the first few days diving deep into music creation in Pro Tools. We cover topics such as:
MIDI basics in Pro Tools
Real Time Properties vs. destructive MIDI properties
Automation (Pro Tools and MIDI)
Editing (tips and tricks, additive and subtractive editing)
Working with virtual instruments in Pro Tools
Advanced FX techniques (side-chaining, parallel compression, etc.)
Time-stretch/elastic audio techniques
What I continue to find is a high rate of Pro Tools adoption by my campers. Many of them have left camp and added the software to their creation and mixing workflows at home. With so many great features being added to Pro Tools on a regular basis now, I am increasingly more excited to share these features and workflows with my campers. Avid continues to be a proud sponsor of GRAMMY Camp, helping to enable the creative spirit in young people. I, also, continue to be proud of the work we are doing to help these young campers achieve their creative potential.
To learn more about music creation in Pro Tools, visit our blog.
I am an electronic dance music producer and DJ residing in Miami, where I've gained a reputation as "Florida's Godfather of Techno" with releases on labels such as Ovum, Plastic City, Nervous, and more. I am also a member of the Avid Pro Audio team.