Classroom studio gear?

It’s that time of the year when budgets are being made up, and we get requests for what we’d like for our classrooms. As I move more into live music coding (mixed with visuals in code), I’m wondering what would make my classroom a really awesome studio setup.

I have one midi controller, a PiSound HAT for the Raspberry Pi, a guitar with a digital amp. What else would I need? I’m looking into a good pair of 6 or 8 inch speakers. But what about maybe synths, sequencers, drum machines, samplers, etc.?

I’m new to all this so I am open to any and all ideas!


From my experience the thing that matters most is decent headphones and a good quality speaker (with decent bass response) for sharing audio with the class.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with my workshops with a Genelec 8010 as they’re small and I can take one with me on the road. However, something bigger with a long cable that can reach to anyone’s machines would likely be better.

I think the critical thing is the bass response. More bass, more impact :slight_smile:

I would also consider getting some headphone splitters so the students can work in pairs.

For the other stuff, I think cheap MIDI controllers will be just fine - nothing fancy needed. A cheap portable small keyboard and a Novation Launchpad will get you a long way. With synths, you can easily spend incredible amounts. I’ve had a lot of fun with my Waldorf Streichfett, Korg Volca FM and Moog Subphatty. Just make sure it receives MIDI :slight_smile:

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Oh, and whilst we’re on the subject of spending budgets - if I were to make some classroom resources would that be something you’d be willing to buy? If so, what kind of thing(s) would both be most useful and most likely to get a tick from a budget spending perspective?

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Thanks for the detailed response! I agree – more bass, more impact!

I have really cheap headphones without splitters, so that’s something to look at for sure. And I’ve actually been watching some YT videos on the Novation Launchpad, since I’ve never used a Launchpad. Most of the vids talked about using it with Ableton, but how would you use it with SP?

Synths are on the wish/dream list for now!

Thanks again!

Definitely fix your cheap headphone situation. From my experience decent headphones are the number one priority of any Sonic Pi lesson/workshop. If that takes out your whole budget, that wouldn’t be a bad thing.

The Launchpad is just a MIDI controller, so it sends MIDI note on/off events just like a typical keyboard. It’s just that the grid layout might make it more accessible to students that aren’t familiar with the piano layout :slight_smile:

Not sure what we’re talking about here. What kind of things would you be selling?

Anything! I’m really looking to try and make another regular revenue stream in addition to Patreon and all the travelling I’m currently having to do.

My initial thought is to create a series of videos and associated PDF learning materials that directly target basic computing concepts which I could sell to schools and individuals. However, at this stage I’m very open to ideas…

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Let me think a bit on that. I would definitely buy video material that could be used in the classroom.

And I mentioned that I would love to hear more about Skype lessons, for myself.

Cool - it would be very useful to know what kind of requirements/constraints you’d have on such a video.

For example, should they be short (5 mins) or longer? I was imagining a series of very specifically focussed videos around 5 mins long that corresponded to a specific Computing concept. The idea being that each lesson could start (or end?) with a video to emphasise the learning concepts.

Skype lessons are a different matter entirely as they require my specific time and coordination. I imagine that as a result they would be quite expensive - probably prohibitively so for individuals. It might be something that schools could potentially purchase for a given lesson though.

Yes, definitely short and focused videos! 5 minutes max! I do them for my students in Scratch game programming and in Python, and long videos just don’t work.

Sad to hear about the skype lessons, but perhaps that’s your next book: How to DJ with Sonic Pi… I’d buy it!

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Also, lots of people give skype lessons on guitar, for example, and I’m not sure that the lessons are prohibitively expensive.

Yes, but I think my time is much more effectively spent developing Sonic Pi rather than giving Skype lessons.

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No doubt. So I guess you’ll have to write that book? I’d write it but I don’t know enough yet!

One day - but I’m also aware that nobody makes too much money from books.

Right now, my number one priority is to earn a sustainable income to enable me to continue working on Sonic Pi. My number two priority is then to reduce travel to a sustainable level to enable me to spend more time with my family. Then perhaps a book…

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Very worthy goals. Here’s hoping you can continue the great work that you do!

Do you have a suggestion for novation launchpad learning btw?

Also, Sam wisely suggested “good headphones”. Does anyone have a suggestion for on-ear headphones that have good bass response, aren’t too terribly expensive, AND can stand up to multiple classes a day of middle school use and abuse?

It’s just a standard MIDI device, so once you’ve figured out how to send and receive MIDI with Sonic Pi, you can apply the same knowledge with a MIDI keyboard and a Launchpad :slight_smile:

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