Dear Squeak and Blat,

I am an older person (I won't say how old, but my high school music teacher was called a "bandmaster") and I want to learn more about music technology. I am retired and have a new computer and my son gave me a MIDI synthesizer for Chirstmas. I want to play around with these things, but I don't know how to start. I know there are a lot of books out there, but I guess I am more interested in magazines to get started.

Bored with White Hair




Dear Bored:

Boy, are you going to have great fun getting started with the world of music technology. You might check out your local music store to see if you can take private lessons on your computer and your new synth! That's right. More and more places are featuring lessons these days. You also might find a piano teacher that has a strong technology background who might help you right away.

The Internet is a great place to begin, but you might waste a lot of time finding the most interesting sites for your needs. Squeak might have some ideas about this. Check out the sites that are listed on our Squeak and Blat page as well.

Magazines might really be a good place to start. Two titles come to mind right away: Electronic Musician and Keyboard Magazine. You can find both on your newstand. They have a mixture of articles, some for experts and many for those just getting started. The advertisements are helpful too in determining just what is out there.

Have fun and write us about what you find confusing or especially interesting.


Dear BWH,

To add to Blat's magazine list I would include Macworld and PC Computing depending on the computer you're working on.

But Blat is too modest! I know you like to read magazines, but I might also suggest you take a look at our book, Experiencing Music Technology, and the CD-ROM tutorial materials that come with it with self-study lessons on lots of music technology topics. On our S & B links page we've also listed some other books on music technology you can consider. With a fixed income, I can understand your reluctance to purchase books like this. Consider making a list of a few of these and asking your local library to add them to their collection.

Also, check with the local colleges in your area about workshops they might offer. Blat and I have workshops we run from time to time and we frequently open them up to people in the community. I have a number of community people like yourself attend my workshops, some even take my regular music technology courses on an audit status. Many colleges have special tution rates for people over certain age limits.

Then there is the ElderHostel program. A quick check of their web site showed lots of computer and Internet courses, like those at Penn State and Oklahoma State University in their Spring catalog. Bluffton College in Ohio is offering a computer and music course. This is just the ticket for you and you can enjoy the traveling as well.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.

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Last modified on Friday, 22/11/2013

Peter R. Webster and David B. Williams

Peter R. Webster (a.k.a “Blat”) and David Brian Williams (a.k.a. “Squeak”) have presented workshops and other presentations together for CMS/ATMI conferences and workshops for more than 20 years.  Their collaboration has led to publications and presentations internationally on music technology as well as the co-authorship of the textbook Experiencing Music Technology (Cengage Learning/Schirmer Books, 3rd edition Update, 2009), a widely adopted and highly acclaimed music technology textbook for high school and college students. Dr. Webster is emeritus professor of music education at Northwestern University and Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Southern California; Dr. Williams is emeritus professor of music and arts technology at Illinois State University, a freelance consultant, composer and musician, and immediate past president of The College Music Society.

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