Recording Music and Audio with the Kids using Audacity

As a young person, my mom and dad invested a great deal in my growth as a musician. Looking back, I’m thankful that I’ve been able to use my gift of music to foster various ministries in our church. My wife and I love making music together by singing and playing the guitar. It’s honestly one of my favorite ways to re-charge and relax.

I wanted to give a shout out to a free tool that I have enjoyed using for basic music recording and talks. Audacity, a free and open source music recording software, has the ability to do a multi-track recording and has lots of basic effects. Audacity runs on Linux, Mac, and Windows. In contrast with other audio recording tools, I appreciate the simplicity of the user experience.

As a Dad, I’m excited to share the gift of music with my kids. My little girl has become very interested in singing lately. To help motivate her, I have started recording some of our jam sessions with Audacity. She loves showing off our work to mom. When my wife and I record music, I do use some professional mic equipment. For the recording sessions that I’m doing with my daughter, the laptop mic works just fine.

If you’re interested in starting a podcast, you might consider starting with Audacity. You can always advance to a more complex tool later. I found a comprehensive post on starting podcasts here. I do like their recommendation for purchasing a higher quality mic. In my experience, I’ve never had any issues with Audacity with advanced recording gear.

Here’s some of the key features that I appreciate from Audacity

  1. Multi-track recording: Let’s say that you want to record many singers or instrumentalists individually, Audacity enables you to layer individual tracks for each recording session. This enables you to edit, mute, solo and apply effects on an individual basis.
  2. Metronome: For some music recording situations, it’s helpful to have a metronome to help you align your tracks across sessions. You can add a metronome track by clicking “Generate > Rhythm track.” Audacity will enable you to set the tempo and generate a click track.
  3. Export to major audio formats: Out of the box, you can export your work to most popular audio formats like Wav, Ogg, and mp3. It’s pretty easy to share your work on services like SoundCloud.
  4. Effects: Audacity has many helpful effects for the entry-level sound engineer. You can amplify sound, apply compression, and apply reverb. When I’m playing with the kids in a silly manner, we sometimes enjoy becoming chipmunks by increasing the speed of tracks or adding lots of echoes.
  5. Editing audio: Audacity has a basic set of tools for editing audio. Once you’ve installed Audacity, you might check out David Taylor’s complete guide to Audacity. He provides a detailed introduction to the tool and many advanced features.

In researching this post, I found a pretty cool Edutopia article talking about the benefits of audio recording for writing. I like the idea of using an audio recording as a brainstorming tool. I also like the idea of reflecting on work by recording it and playing it back. I might try this idea as I’m teaching the kids piano.

Related Posts

Inspiring Curiosity

We initially started this blog in 2012. I was a brand new college professor and this platform became an opportunity for my husband and I to share our thoughts and ideas on education and technology. We took the conversations that we had at the dinner table and put them into this public forum. It was a project that we could share. The last time I posted was in 2014, I had just finished my first year in a tenure track position and was getting ready for the arrival of our third baby. It’s true what they say, three is the hardest number of kids. The long and the short of it is that life has been incredibly busy over the last five years. While Michael has continued to maintain the blog, I have struggled with juggling parenting and full time teaching. Throw in an interstate move, a new job, and some extra teaching jobs on the side, and I just did not have the bandwidth to write.

Things are beginning to settle down a bit (I hope) and I feel the need to start contributing again. Two years ago I started my current position at an awesome institution dedicated to high quality education. They invest heavily in faculty development and provide plenty of opportunities for me to hone my craft as a teacher. I have learned so much and I want to share those ideas with others, so here I am, back in the blogosphere.

Michael got super excited the other day when I told him that I wanted to start writing again. For him, this blog has been a labor of love. We sat down over breakfast, before the kids got up, and talked about the directions we wanted to take things. I am a biology professor and he is a computer programmer. We both naturally lean towards topics in STEM, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to that. We tossed around some ideas, and came up with our new catch phrase:

Inspiring Curiosity through Creative Projects and Exploration

As both a teacher and a parent, it is my hope that I can inspire people to get excited about learning. One of my biggest frustrations is when I encounter a student that sees my class as an obligation for getting a degree and not an opportunity to learn new things. I want to tap in to people’s natural curiosity.  With curiosity comes joy in learning and discovery. I want to help people to find awe and wonder in the world around them. I want to use this blog and social media channels to this end. In this world of fear, suspicion and tribalism, I want to encourage others to think outside of themselves and open themselves up to new ideas and perspectives.

I am not sure where this all will lead, but I will leave you with this video that encompasses what I am hoping to achieve. It is of a student seeing Euglena (a microscopic, single celled creature) under the microscope for the first time. The first voice you will hear will be mine, followed by my student’s. I love that I captured this moment, because you can just hear her joy in her laughter. It is more moments like these that I seek.