What’s a MOOC? Free Learning For The Broke Musician. That’s What!

MOOC stands for Massive Open Online Course.

I’m an artist that is constantly is in learning mode. But I never wanted to study online, because I have too many distractions in my ADD life.

My interest was peaked when a homebound artist friend of mine decided to embark on a college degree from home. Online learning and degrees all of sudden seemed legit to me. So when I heard about Coursera.org, I immediately looked into it.

There are a plethora of interesting topics ranging from Food and Nutrition to Statistics and Data Analysis. The interesting part to me was that many of the courses originated from Ivy League schools.

In comes Berklee College of Music. There were actually classes here in songwriting, production, engineering, rock history, and some instrument learning. These classes are FREE!

I first signed up for Songwriting and Production. Unfortunately they started at the same exact time, and they always seem to be offered at the same time. I say unfortunately because there is quite a workload. As soon as they started, I was off to play South By South West, and had no Internet connection, so I dropped production and missed a week of songwriting.

I actually learned some cool stuff with Songwriting. First of all the teacher was very engaging and the videos were high quality and interesting to watch. Embedded in the videos are little quizzes before you can move on. They are usually easy if you are paying attention.

Every week you have an assignment that gets graded by your peers in the course. It’s pretty random, and every week you have the responsibility to grade 5 other peers. This can be good and also very bad leading to happiness or intense rage.

Some peers obviously don’t understand directions, perhaps they are not even in the same country, and can be mean. Some reviewers are awesome and encouraging and offer great advice. Also when you start the courses there are a lot of directions to keep in mind. Deadline timing may take some getting used to.

For music courses typically, you’d need to set up a Soundcloud account. For production you would need to learn to record videos, or write blogs including screen shots to teach back a concept for homework each week. There is a LOT of learning, and homework can be from 6-8 hours a week.

Do you learn? Yes absolutely. So far I’ve taking songwriting, music production, and basic guitar.

I’ve signed up for plenty more that I never finished. That’s pretty typical of MOOCS. 50,000 people may sign up and only between 1 and 3 percent will finish the course and get a certificate upon completion.

Being able to take screen shots like this one will be necessary for homework in music production classes.

Here’s the link for the Berklee College of Music songwriting class.

And another for guitar. Try one out!

Dorit is a rock singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and Middle Eastern Dancer. She has performed internationally on concert stages, TV, film, and theatre, and has inspired many students to find to their own expression through music and dance. Dorit’s current goal is to self produce her album and complete an acoustic guitar she hand built as a teenager at the Bronx High School of Science. Her influences include Led Zeppelin, Middle Eastern music, Latin music and old school hip hop -- anything with great rhythm. Find out more about Dorit here>>

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