Learning how to produce music used to have a pretty high barrier to entry. Online tutorials were rare, knowledge was heavily guarded, and gear was super expensive.
Times have changed: prices have dropped, the advent of YouTube and open learning has also revolutionized the way we consume content and learn new abilities.
Producers from all around the world offer free online music production courses that teach the various functions and requirements on Youtube and similar platforms.
If you have the time to learn and practice, you can acquire the same skills much faster. Those are available for free, so why should you be paying for AVB’s Masterclass?
In this review, I’ll go over my honest thoughts on…
- Who this course is suited for
- Why you should (or shouldn’t) buy it
- The course and whether it’s worth your hard-earned money.
Armin Van Buuren Teaches Dance Music Masterclass (Reviewed)
The course includes an intro, outro and 31 lessons all up, amounting to a whopping 6 and half hours of video content.
You’ll discover Armin’s favorite plugins to use, including freebies, so you can establish your wishlist as you make your way through the course.
Armin demonstrates what each of those will do while letting you behind the scenes on some of his biggest hits.
You will learn pro techniques on how to:
- Make your mix more balanced,
- Create impactful transitions between song sections,
- Create powerhouse synth patches
- And much, much more.
Variety Of Courses: 9.0/10
Lesson structure includes the following:
- Philosophy & Career (5 lessons)
- Engineering & Technical Aspects (10 Lessons)
- Melodic Elements (4 Lessons)
- Rhythmic Elements (3 Lessons)
- Vocals (4 Lessons)
- DJing (5 Lessons)
You’re also going to get Armin’s background story, learn how he kicked off his 20+ year career, and the different ways he draws inspiration.
Armin will also introduce you to some good habits of the facets of his work, and how you can get yourself in a better mental state for production, DJing and handling yourself online.
An unexpected benefit of this course is the guest appearances made by one of Armin’s co-producers, as well as one of his vocalists. You get a lot of ‘feel’ for how collaborating and communicating with other creators in the studio should be conducted, as well as how beneficial it can be.
Above all, the course is full of inspirational moments that will have you want to pause the tutorial to go and try out.
Quality Of Content: 8.5/10
His success as a DJ, producer, radio host, label manager, and touring artists is hard to understate, but does that mean he’s a good teacher? In the case of this Masterclass, the answer is a resounding ‘yes’.
What is often overlooked about Armin’s gravitas is his down-to-earth approach to teaching and explaining. He has an incredible ability to formulate and explain the ideas and intentions behind his decisions.
He draws you in, keeping you focused & engaged. The explanations are down-to-earth and accessible.
A golden nugget of info I learned from Armin was how much effort you should put into your care with dynamics.
This tip unlocks a critical mistake that newbies fall into — making the buildup dominate the track instead of the actual climax itself. A simple hack he suggests is having up to -3dB automation on the master before the drop, to add to the impact of the final climax.
I was especially glad to learn how Armin chooses to separate his personal life from his business career, for the sake of balance (and many other reasons). Additionally, learning how not to be overly humble or abrasive when sending out demos is a golden tip that’ll save you a lot of headaches.
The Masterclass Platform: 8.5/10
The Masterclass platform allows for a highly organized and pleasant experience; Video quality is top-notch and it never lags or stutters. If you ever need to stop your session, Masterclass will remember where you left off, so you can continue straight ahead.
Sections within each video are meticulously labeled so you can always tell where you want to skip or return to if you need to (for example, the ‘Arrangement’ lesson has labels for ‘The Intro’, ‘Find ways to tease your melody’, ’Always keep the beat’ and more).
Unfortunately, no resources are offered to help you track your progress. If you’re not taking notes during class, you will need to find the tips you might have missed on your own, and likewise, if you have skipped/turned back to a lesson, you will not be able to track what lessons you have and have not completed. However, the PDF workbooks provided per lesson offer a lot of extra value, and give you practical assignments to perform at the end of every lesson.
Notebooks can be downloaded in PDF format for each class to help you focus during the lesson, with additional tasks that will ensure you etch the techniques into your brain. The workbook covers the scope of the course, and each lesson has its own set of notes.
Likewise, you can try and get engaged in the community built around each Masterclass, both in the comments under each video and in the community forum.
Another advantage of Masterclass over most other tutorial-providers is the production value provided by their award-winning platform.
All shots are accurate and sharp, the cinematography is great and the audio quality is excellent.
The videos are exceptionally well documented, with labels marking the time for every topic within each video.
Price & Value: 8.0/10
Though the content is varied and will almost surely include something you need, it is unlikely that all of it will be relevant to you.
- Do you really need tips on how to make a radio show at this stage?
- Are lessons on how to build DJ sets for festivals relevant to you?
- Are the plethora of vocal technique lessons relevant to your style of production?
That being said, the majority of the course is tailored to music producers, so you’re still getting tonnes of value bombs that will ultimately help you become a better music producer.
It’s worth mentioning that this course is perfect for you if you are in your first 6-12 months into production or are considering taking up music production as a hobby.
You’ll get plenty of motivation and a great overview of what it is you are taking upon yourself.
To my surprise, watching the video a second time, about a year and a half after the first viewing, proved to be pretty rewarding!
There were a few tips that I was not able to absorb the first time around, as well as some additional, more advanced techniques I was unable to grasp. Things like approaches to dynamic processing, advanced mixing and mastering techniques made a lot more sense over a rewatch.
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