What Coursera has to offer:
- Free Classes
- Paid Classes
- Interactions with real teachers digitally
We all want to grow in our own skills and fields. I have wanted to take my skills to new fields for a while now. Up until this point, I had always focused on working with live instruments and multiple musicians. I had been wanting to break into new styles such as electronic music, whether it be to create my own tracks, or use the ideas to build onto any of my client’s tracks. I did not know where to start. I looked at Youtube videos, and everything I found covered a lot more complicated issues than I was searching for. I just wanted to know how to make a basic sound with a synthesizer. Search after search finally led me to the wonderful world of Coursera.
Table of Contents:
What is Coursera?
So I talk a lot of game for a made up word. But believe me, Coursera is fantastic. Coursera is a site where you can learn college level materials without paying the college level price. Now that can make you think that this is probably stuff made by some guy passing it off as second hand knowledge. In fact it is quite the opposite. On Coursera you have access to classes from esteemed schools such as Berklee, University of Michigan, Duke University, the list just goes on and on. There are even ways to get different degrees and masters through this site.
Now Coursera is not limited solely to music and production related topics. They offer wide varieties reaching from business, to computer sciences, to animal health. There is such a wide variety I do not even know how to describe it all. Not only can you complete bachelor’s programs and master’s, you can get certain single courses done and receive the certifications you need to get a step up in your career and workplace. There are ways to connect your Coursera account with Linkedin to show future employers that you have put in the time and effort for the role you are working towards. I was just simply looking for a course on making electronic music and I stepped into a whole new world of knowledge.
What Does it Cost?
Now this is the question I was asking and looking for every time I clicked on a course. And to be straight forward, it depends on the class. Some of the master’s courses cost tens of thousands of dollars. The course I took was only $50, but it was also only a 4 week course. The prices reflect of course the school it is coming from, the length of the course, the level of the it, and factors in materials and references.
If you would like a little more info on what I took, it was called Creating Sounds for Electronic Music. It was created by Berklee and had so much information opening my eyes to a whole new avenue of creativity. Now the cool thing about this course was that I did the paid full version where I was required to complete assignments and help review other student’s work. With that I get the credit of completing the course and being able to put it on Linkedin or add it to a resume.
Paid vs Unpaid
So I think the biggest drawback anyone would have to paying for a class such as Creating Sounds for Electronic Music, would be that they can access all of the information for free. The videos and knowledge from Loudon Stearn and the team at Berklee is incredible and completely accessible to someone wanting to take the course for free. In the free version, you have access to all of the videos and reading materials that the paying students do. However, I feel like you are pushed more to hit the peak of your abilities with the paid version. It presses you to achieve goals so that you actually strive to better yourself. You do not get the chance to have real feedback from others to help you shape your sound so much. As well as actually receiving a certification for the completion of the course.
A Regular Week
Just so you have an idea of how these courses can work, for the level class I took, the 4 weeks had the same basic schedule. You had the full week to get the assignments done in your own time as long as you have completed them and had them submitted by Sunday night. Throughout the week you had a list of videos with access through your account on the Coursera website. To learn what you needed to do that week, you watch all of the videos, there were never more than 5 and they were always less than 10 minutes. In the videos you are not just listening to a lecture, you actually get to watch firsthand as Loudon makes the sounds. It is also encouraged for you to have your DAW open and follow along creating your own and learning it all by doing it.
Then once you had watched the videos and applied what you learned to the track you are making, you have a submission at the end to show your progress and prove your aptitude for what you had learned. There was also a quiz that asked how you feel you could improve, and had you imitate some of your favorite artists just to see if you could apply what you were learning in shaping the sounds.
How to Get Started
Getting started could not be easier. Simply go to Coursera.org and look for the class that best fits your needs. Whether it be math, science, music, or whatever you are wanting to study. You see when the next rotation of the course begins and get involved. Creating Sounds for Electronic Music started at the beginning of every month and ran its 4 week course, renewing at the top of every month (at least that was what I was able to gather).
I think if you want to start taking your education seriously while still maintaining a job, family, or whatever else you have on your plate, Coursera is there to help you. You can easily fit this in with yourself and learn the way you are most comfortable. I know for myself, I was able to get my work done every week while still working over 40 hours. Believe me, If I can do it, so can you. So please, take this chance for yourself and your future to better grow your knowledge.