Burbank’s Central Library offers lessons and tools for recording original songs

(Photo by Ross A Benson)

Burbank Central Library recently hosted a “How to Record a Song” course for locals looking to create original music using materials available at the library.

The two-day course took place on Tuesday August 9 and Thursday August 11 and was led by Grammy-winning recording engineer, producer and recording artist Be Hussey. Hussey previously led the same class in March, teaching attendees how to create songs in Spark! Laboratory and sound booth that the library offers to visitors. Digital audio workstations such as Avid Pro Tools, Apple Logic Pro and Ableton Live are present on the lab computers and used for this function.

Instructor Be Hussey shows the students the sound booth they can use. (Photo by Ross A Benson)

Participants learned the basics of recording, editing and mixing music through lectures and a demonstration with guest musician Erik Ehlert, who sang in the booth during the first day of the course. In his presentations, Hussey explained topics such as setting up a studio, using the proper tools for recording, and mixing recorded tracks using methods such as panning and EQ. .

As described by the Burbank Public Library website, the spark! Lab combines “computers, software, and other technologies used in the media industry to create music, movies, animation, video games, and more.” The laboratory was the first introduced in this place in January 2020, and the sound booth, which can record music, podcasts, etc., was implemented in 2022. Since these useful features were recently added to the library, news of their accessibility begins just to spread to local artists.

“You can do a lot of creative damage here,” Hussey said. “I think the word has just gotten out that he’s available.”

Many visitors to the class were beginners who looked to Hussey for guidance as he shared the best of his musical expertise. He is currently part of the post-punk duo TANGIENTS and has his own recording studio called CATWATER. As a performer of over 30 years and a recording engineer since the late 90s, Hussey has witnessed the dramatic change in the musical landscape in recent history. The goal of his teaching is to simplify techniques for newcomers who may have already been exposed to a wide range of song-making information from a variety of online sources.

“It really is the Wild West,” Hussey said of Music Business Today. “People don’t necessarily know what they’re doing. And so a lot of my mixing is a solution situation. … ‘Let’s step back. Let’s do it right. Forget what you read on the Internet. Don’t stack all the plug-ins and try to be fancy. … I think part of my class here is just, ‘Keep it simple. Do not be shy.

Spark! Digital Media Lab Librarian Jim Cody has seen the lab benefit many Burbank creatives, including musicians recording tracks, voice-over actors building demo reels, members of the Burbank Art Association using the space for 3D printing and artists doing other independent projects.

“One person I spoke to works in animation and is coming to work on their own comic, drawing with one of our Wacom tablets,” Cody said. “Another person creates music for animation and other video projects professionally. He comes into the Spark! Lab to work on 3D printing.

The library previously had an in-person video production program which was suspended when the library was closed from 2020 to 2021 due to the pandemic. Zoom-only courses educating the public about Audacity audio software and 3D printing have been delivered in the meantime. Since the reopening of the library at the end of summer 2021, additional seminars have been set up. These include the Intro to Adobe Premiere and Intro to Adobe Photoshop courses taught by video/photography expert Chris O’Keefe. Additionally, Teen AV Club lesson plans were held in the Spark! Lab to teach teens the ins and outs of Photoshop, 3D printing, and GarageBand.

The two-day How to Record a Song course filled up quickly after being posted on the library’s website. Cody says the workshop will continue to be offered if this enthusiastic community feedback persists.

“It depends on the answer,” Cody said. “As long as we generate a lot of interest in these programs, we continue to run them.

In addition to this music tutorial, Hussey also taught a How to Record a Podcast, Voiceover or Narration course in May 2022. So far in his role as an educator at the library, some of Hussey’s favorite memories have was to see participants connect with the tools and information that can be applied to their personal artistic aspirations.

“[I] try to demystify the process,” Hussey said of teaching how to make a song. “Last time there was a lot of oohs and aahs, like, ‘Whoa,’ and light bulbs going out. It’s a great moment when people are like, ‘Oh, that’s the way it is.’ »

To learn more about the programs taking place at Burbank Public Libraries, visit their events page here.
To learn more about Be Hussey, visit his website here.

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