If you’re on Facebook and you like or follow any page associated with music production, guitar brands, or similar things that identify you as a musician to the omniscient and omnipresent algorithms, you’ve no doubt seen ads for Musicisum.
A bearded gentlemen identified as simply “Dave”—feet crossed nonchalantly upon the top of a desk—grins at you from the window of this newsfeed advertisement.
“Musicisum,” it says.
“Learn music production with Dave,” it invites.
Ring a bell?
If you haven’t seen these ads, you’re probably still curious as to what Musicisum is.
So what the heck is this? And who is Dave?
Musicisum.net is like an online school for guitar, singing, and music production. This virtual academy goes for a practical, hands-on approach to learning your instrument or your voice, and offers a built-in dashboard that tracks your progress and practice time as you advance through the courses.
What’s great is that a student of any skill level can jump in and start learning.
Musicisum has something to offer to both hobby musicians and those who are a bit more serious about their craft.
A complete beginner could gain a lot from the structured courses offered in guitar and voice, and someone who has been playing or singing for years could benefit from the exercises and drills taught along the learning paths.
The content is not heavy into musical theory, so those with no knowledge of musical notation or reading sheet music need not fear, and can have a totally unimpeded learning experience.
Any music theory concepts encountered are lucidly explained and demonstrated.
Dave and the Digital Audio Workstation
So Dave Hollingworth really isn’t just some guy. He is a phenomenal bass player who is probably best know as the bassist of the Rob Chapman-fronted band Dorje as well as the band Toska. He also handled production and engineering duties on Dorje’s EP “Centred And One”, and many of the other records for bands he plays in.
Dave’s music production course offers the core fundamentals in producing a full track, covering the basic anatomy and applications of EQ, editing, compression, limiting and other production tools.
Dave builds a track one instrument at a time recording drums, bass, guitars, and vocals, and guides you through some balancing and shaping during the mixing lessons.
The lessons don’t venture far into the advanced-level recording and mixing intricacies, but could take someone with zero production experience and guide them to the completion of their very first track, which is well worth $15, in my opinion.
Dave also explains the anatomy of a standard digital audio workstation (DAW), going over everything from the audio interface to monitor placement.
Project studio types with a good amount of experience with the DAW may not gain as much as newbies, but really mastering the basics can take anyone very far in their productions.
Riffing with Rabea Massaad
You may recognize Rabea as “that friendly-lookin’ bloke with the afro who shows up in Rob Chapman and Anderton’s Music videos on YouTube.”
He is a wonderfully talented guitarist in his very own right, with great content on his YouTube channel, by the way.
He’s also a fine teacher. In Musicisum’s guitar series, Rabea starts you off at the very basic levels of picking and fretting, and eases you steadily into very useful chords and scales that will challenge your dexterity, and expand your command over the fretboard.
The guitar learning path covers a massive amount of ground. You can start from ground-zero with lessons including the anatomy of your guitar, how to hold the pick, and fretting the guitar, to advanced topics like two-handed tapping or the essential modes from Dorian to Locrian.
Rabea’s lessons also feature content geared towards playing in different styles like djent, reggae, or blues.
To top it off, the guitar course even offers lessons in preparing yourself for stepping on the stage including warm up exercises and performance tips.
Hitting the Notes with Hannah
The voice lessons were the most interesting to me, as singing has been the most daunting part of my musical journey.
While I can write great lyrics and melodies, my vocal recording sessions have always been fraught with frustration, swearing, dread, and wanting to just give up completely and bury my microphone in the backyard.
Hannah Boulton has given me hope.
Her lessons guide the complete beginner—or the struggling novice—through the basics of tone placement, the differences between your “head voice” and “chest voice”, as well as how to transition between those two extremes. She demonstrates some brilliant exercises for training pitch, projecting the voice, and sustaining notes.
You hone your voice further with scales, arpeggios, and dynamic exercises. There is also important advice for warming up and taking care of your voice.
Being a competent singer really hinges on mastery of these basic, fundamental skills, and Musicisum’s voice lessons can help you build your vocals on a solid foundation.
For $15 USD a month you get access to all available courses, and membership to the private Musicisum Facebook group. There is no commitment, only the month-to-month subscription.
Your account’s dashboard keeps track of your progress as you work through the videos, and even logs the time you have spent practicing on each of the interactive exercises on your learning path, similar to a platform like Kahn Academy. This is a great way to visualize the hours you’ve practiced riffing and singing, and a way to motivate yourself.
The production value of all of the videos is top notch, with crystal clear audio and picture, showcasing instructors that are easy to follow and enjoy their craft.
The founders of Musicisum are as passionate about making music as you are, and they interact regularly in the Facebook group for Musicisum Students, polling subscribers for feedback and learning what type of content users would like to see in the future. For example, they’ve recently launched some more advanced guitar exercises, and are preparing some drum, piano and music industry courses all based on user feedback.
Musicisum is a fantastic value for anyone wanting some structured education in guitar, voice, or production without getting bogged down by the technical minutiae of music theory or sifting through endless, often poorly executed how-to videos on YouTube.