Tag Archives: GarageBand

PTJ 110: Just Keep it Out of Your Pants

We’re pretty confident Steve Jobs would have advised us not to stuff the bendable iPhone 6 Plus into our pants pockets, much in the same way he helpfully suggested that we should hold our iPhone 4 differently to help alleviate antenna issues.

Also pretty confident  his pants pocket recommendation would go over just as well as his “antennagate” tip did.

This week on the show J.D. shows us where we can go for music lessons online and El Kaiser reviews DUBS “acoustic filters” from Doppler Labs.

In the news, Home Depot’s lax network security; Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba sets IPO record; UPS Stores set to offer 3D printing service; Amazon workers strike in Germany; despite reports of bendy new iPhones, Apple sells millions of them; and NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft enters the orbit of the planet Mars.

Music Videos

Piano lessons (or whatever instrument your parents thought you should play) are something many of may have found a total drag when we were growing up. Some people liked the lessons, though, and regret letting their musical skills lapse. Some people never got to have personalized guidance and have been dreaming for years about picking up an instrument as a new hobby. If you fall into one of these camps but are too busy to find a local teacher, music instruction has gotten decidedly more digital the past few years.

Sure, you can order instructional DVDs or video downloads for your instrument of choice from the Web. If you want more personalized guidance in your musical education, however, consider online lessons with a live teacher through your computer or tablet’s webcam. Thanks to Skype, Google Hangouts and other video-calling software — and websites that help you find a teacher — you can take those weekly lessons and get feedback from a live human without leaving the house.

One of the big sites in the web-lessons space is the Zenph Online Education Network. The company is based out of North Carolina’s Triangle Research Park area and offers to hook you up with teachers for more than 30 different instruments. Piano, guitar, brass, woodwinds, strings and percussion are offered, as well as lessons in songwriting, voice and music theory. Prices per lesson vary by teacher, but $20 for half an hour or $30 for an hour are common, and you can book a free trial.


ArtistWorks is another site, and it offers live and pre-recorded lessons on both music and art. This site uses a subscription-based model for its pricing plans starting at about $30 a month — $90 for three months. On the ArtistWorks site, you join a “school” — a specific section dedicated to a particular instrument and teacher. The schools have a lesson library, video exchange and personalized feedback. Some of the teachers are very well-known in their fields, like Tony Trischka for banjo, Mike Marshall on mandolin or clarinet lessons with Ricardo Morales of the Philadelphia Orchestra. You can also get free sample lessons.


If you’re a parent and looking for an online music teacher for your child (or yourself), Lessonface.com is another site to consider. The portal connects students of all ages to instructors for piano, guitar and most school-band instruments. You find a teacher by filling in a web form with your instrument, cost and schedule preferences. Prices average around $35 for a half-hour lesson. Some, but not all, instructors offer trial lessons if you want to see how the student does with the teacher.


Guitar is a very popular instrument for teens, so if you’re narrowing your search to the six-string axe, check out FindaGuitarTeacher.com. The TakeLessons.com site also has personalized guitar instruction, along with bass, ukulele and a few other instruments.


Those are just some of the many sites for online music instruction. If you just want some general guidance or see how a particular riff or song is reverse-engineered, do a search on YouTube or Vimeo.  And if you have a fairly recent Mac and the yen to learn guitar or piano, that copy of Apple’s free GarageBand program lurking in your Applications folder includes basic lessons in both instruments and links to buy more lessons online.


The benefits of music education, especially in younger kids, are pretty well-known at this point. Even if you’re an adult and working full-time, though, setting aside a bit of time each day for musical pursuits can be rewarding in itself with a little bit of acoustic therapy that pushes you in a new direction. And who knows — maybe all those years of playing Rock Band on the game console has actually given you a head start.

Home Recording Means Never Having to Fix it in The Mix

This week we featured the debut single from singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mario Ceara on the show. The single, “I Believe” was produced and recorded in his home studio using consumer equipment and software. The result is a professionally recorded track that cost next to nothing to make.

Thank God I got into the glamorous and lucrative world of podcasting. If I’d stayed in the music business I might have starved to death…

There are a myriad of hardware options, plugins, gadgets and doodads for home-recording enthusiasts but my focus here and on the show is on the digital audio workstation software—or DAW for short.

The DAW software serves as the mixing board, effects rack, and multi-track recorder and is by far the most important purchase when putting together a project studio.  It is the “nerve center” of the whole setup so care should be taken in its selection.

Here are a few examples that are “Kaiser Approved”.

The industry standard is Avid’s Pro Tools. It is ubiquitous and is available in various flavors from 2 track versions for beginners just getting into audio production to the HD bundle with its proprietary hardware interface.

Ableton Live is a popular alternative to Pro Tools and is available in 3 versions: Intro, Standard and Suite. The software package is especially suited for live performance.

Apple Logic Pro is a popular choice of professional musicians, is well designed, and relatively simple to use.

Steinberg Cubase has been around for decades and I used an early version of the software on my first computer, the Atari ST. Steinberg actually invented the VST synths and effects standard and most other major DAW developments.

Cakewalk has also been in the DAW software business for decades and their Sonar software is rumored to be the most popular PC-only DAW in the world.

Sony’s ACID has been around since 1998 but is still a player in the DAW game. Looping and automatic timestretching are two of its killer features.

If your budget is tight, some low cost alternatives include Apple GarageBand which is free for Mac and iOS.  The open source and multi-platform Audacity is also free.  Traktion will set you back $60, and Cockos Reaper offers a discounted license for personal use.

While none of these options will guarantee you a spot at the top of iTunes download chart, they will allow you to record some great sounding music.