Award-winning singer-songwriter Dan Masterson will teach a Songwriting Workshop for teens and adults, and Intro to Recording classes for teens beginning April 1.
How did you get into songwriting? Was there one teacher or program that inspired you the most as you were learning?
I started in high school. I had already taken to composition and arranging, and made the jump to songwriting when I moved to a new school. I’d say Matt Corriel, who primarily writes for musical theater, but has taught seminars on American Popular Song as a tradition of its own.
What are you currently doing as a performing songwriter?
My band and I were recently awarded “Last Band Standing in New England” in a regional competition organized the New England Music Awards. We will be returning to the studio in the very near future to begin recording our debut full length to follow the success of two EPs released in 2014 and 2015.
What do you hope to do in your class? What can students expect to get out of it?
We will listen, analyze, and discuss a variety of recordings to illustrate different tricks and tools used by songwriters before breaking out to write. We’ll use structured exercises to help focus our writing and work with one another to provide constructive feedback and practice co-writing.
Can anyone write a song?
Certainly anyone can write a song. Many military and sports anthems were conceived by people without the intention of being a songwriter. It certainly helps to have a background in music theory, or experience playing an instrument, but those are not prerequisites. I believe an ability to pick up on patterns and a willingness to take risks are the best assets to an aspiring songwriter.
How easy can it be to record your own music? Do you need a lot of equipment?
Recording music can be as simple or as complicated as you like, but achieving a professional sound takes some technical skill and knowledge. There’s no sense in acquiring equipment without the knowledge that allows you to take full advantage of its capability, and there are many affordable, low budget options for the beginner/hobbyist.
What software will you be using?
I am a Logic Pro X user (Mac OS only), but will be focusing on understanding underlying functions and tools available within a variety of software, or even hardware recording technology. Garageband, iMovie, and Audacity may also be used.
What should participants expect to come away with from this class?
Participants will leave understanding the basics of microphone selection, making the most of the equipment at hand, how to properly wrap cabling, understand signal path, understand basics of acoustics and the physics of sound, and techniques for low budget demos. We will also cover MIDI and its many uses for both recording and live application.
How has home recording helped your career as a performing musician?
I use recording software on a near-daily basis. I use a small midi keyboard to play in demo recordings for the band to hear before playing a new song. I use voice memos to save songwriting ideas. I’ve used a basic mobile recording rig to record my live performances for personal review or make those recordings available to fans. Understanding the basics also makes performers aware of the challenges posed to sound techs on stage and in studio so they can make sound check go smoother, or make efficient use of expensive studio time.
How can home recording help someone interested in fields other than music?
In a multimedia world, recording audio is now an essential part of communications, journalism, business presentations, even social media marketing. College students will find courses that expect them to produce mini-documentaries with voiceovers using software like iMovie, or podcasts using Garageband. Learning the basics of recording will prepare students with a set of skills applicable in a variety of fields beyond music.
What do you like to do when you’re not teaching or performing?
Outside of performing and teaching, I like to play Fifa 13, participate in civic life, attend shows, support locally-owned small businesses, and wonk out on housing and transportation policy.
Learn more about Dan at www.danmastersonmusic.com