Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Audacious Sound Editing

Thanks to Toby and Tina for comments this week on Collecting the Benjamins (about collecting student payments), and to Steven for comments on last week’s survey of sites connecting students and teachers.  I agree with Steven that ads vary from day to day and place to place, so I have revised one survey listing which was based entirely on ads.  (By the way, I take responsibility for all my own comments in this blog!)

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A very up-to-date downeast Maine minister, whom I interviewed for his daring World War II experiences, introduced me to Audacity–a free music program that can provide some very nice benefits for music teachers.

(Note that Audacity is not at audacity.com; it is at this link, in case you’d like to check it out.  The download is free, and available for Windows, Mac, Linux and other systems.  It is open-source, much like Linux and Mozilla.)

With Audacity, you can record anything your computer can play–from a CD, a website, a microphone, anything–into a sound file of its own, which you can then manipulate in a ridiculous number of ways.

For example, you can slow any portion of the recording down without changing the pitch–great for transcribing tricky passages.  You can also play around with tempo, pitch, speed, EQ, echoes, reverse, fades, filters, and lots more.

You can edit sound as if it were a word processor–drag the mouse to select an area of music, and cut, copy, paste, undo.  You can add tracks and do some pretty sophisticated editing if you’re of a mind to.  The results can be saved as an MP3 or WAV file, and I am hopeful that the new version will have more options, such as saving as a WMA file, which I find to be the most useful for emailing (I have found some format conversion software online to do that job for now.)

Whether you are transcribing music, learning by ear, combining or editing sound samples, preparing a recording for a website, preparing sound samples for students, or just having fun with music, Audacity is a tool you should keep handy.   You certainly can’t beat the price!

About the Author

Ed Pearlman
Ed Pearlman has focused on performing, teaching, and judging fiddle music for over 30 years, offering performances and workshops throughout the USA and in Canada and Scotland. His original training was with members of the Chicago and Boston Symphonies, and he played with orchestras and chamber groups at Yale and in Boston. He currently teaches privately in Maine and at workshops around the countr... [Read more]

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