If you’ve already read my Music Production Courses review, you know that I have some background in music. While I enjoyed both the synth-pop in the 80s and electronica in the 90s, I’m not into the dance music at all. I often used a lot of the gear that is traditionally utilized in electronic music, but I never really made any electronic music myself.
In this training roundup, I’ll give you my best suggestions for Ableton Live online courses. I am actually calling this course list just Ableton because they no longer have only one software product. There is now also hardware called Push. I will mostly recommend Live training and there will be some Push courses mentioned as well.
- Live vs Push
- Best Online Ableton Courses
Live vs Push
In a nutshell, Live is a sequencer and a digital audio workstation. It is also a sampler, it has several excellent synthesizers plus a bunch of great sounding built-in effects. It does multitrack recording as well and has an excellent algorithm for time-stretching and all kinds of weird warping. Its granular synthesis is actually what initially got me interested in it.
But that’s a very short description for such a powerful piece of software.
Push initially started as a Live 9 controller but has grown tremendously with Push 2. Together, they now form one very capable sampling instrument, sequencer, and a DAW.
I bought a copy of Live way back towards the end of version 5. My biggest issue with it was first that it wasn’t exactly right for my needs. Although it’s perfect for loop-based musicians and composers, that was never me. I did have an intention to use it for live performances (it’s in its name after all LOL), but I guess we just never really clicked properly. However – do not take that as a vote against it! Any tool as powerful as Live is magical in the skillful hands. Just not mine!
Regardless of whether it was for me or not, the second big problem I had was that there were so many little buttons that were absolutely impossible to tweak on the screen. Luckily, we always had controllers such as Oxygen 8 that gave us that extended and physical input.
Push came out of that natural musicians’ need to tweak and twiddle the knobs, move them sliders, and tap those pads. Having your head buried in the screen just does not make for a very groovy experience and the music that comes out is similarly lacking in character. So kudos to them for creating such a powerful machine perfectly built for its purpose.
Ableton is a German company, as are many top electronic music software companies these days. Push was engineered together with Akai Professional, now an American company that creates hardware and software products for DJs while the old Japanese company Akai still creates consumer electronics.
Back in the 80s, the Japanese Akai’s professional division brought us some of the earliest samplers. They quickly followed that success with their groundbreaking sampling sequencers that influenced everything that came after. Those were the MPC series (MIDI Production Center) co-created with Roger Linn. He is the guy who created the LM-1, a truly revolutionary device. Released in 1980, it was the first drum machine to use digital samples of acoustic drums.
Between Akai Professional and Ableton, I would expect nothing less than the amazing product that Push is. In addition, it’s pretty darn affordable!
Best Online Ableton Courses
Introduction to Ableton Live
This introductory course from Berklee College of Music will get you started on using Ableton Live. You will learn the basic navigation, recording, editing, looping, and using its instruments to create a piece of music.
If you are a total Live beginner, this is an excellent and simple course taught by the world renowned Berklee College of Music from Boston.
It is designed to be taken over three weeks, taking 3-5 hours of your time every week. This is not the presentation time, which is much shorter. This is the total time that includes your own practice.
You’ll learn Live’s most powerful and useful features such as recording, warping, processing, MIDI programming, editing loops, performing, and mixing as well as file management and troubleshooting. It’s a beginner course meant to start off those who are new to Ableton Live and DAWs in general.
Also, if you don’t already have Live, you will be able to download a fully featured trial version. This trial version will let you save and export for only 30 days, so make sure you don’t download it until just before the course starts.
“Great first introduction into Ableton. Very clear and structured unlike a lot of the free tutorials out there. I would love to see a part 2 of this course that goes into more advanced topics.”
“This course got me up and running with Ableton Live very quickly. Before I started I was feeling daunted by the complexity of the software. Three weeks later I can navigate the interface proficiently and I’m able to produce some interesting sounds using the knowledge and confidence I’ve gained.”
Berklee College of Music was Founded in the early 50s and it’s always kept up with the times to reflect the current state of the art of music and the music business. It readies their students for professional music careers using contemporary music, in the styles and fields that they’ll be working in later on.
Erin Barra is an associate professor at Berklee, where she teaches Live. She is also a producer, songwriter, and audio-tech consultant. Her work in electronic music has been featured in many industry publications. She’s been writing, producing, and releasing work as an independent artist since 2006. Erin has toured the country both doing workshops and as a performer.
Coursera has all kinds of pricing and payment options and there are many types of courses there. Fortunately, if you don’t care about a certificate, this course is actually FREE. If you do want to get a certificate, you’ll need to pay for it. I’ll give you my opinion about that shortly.
Who These Courses Are For
As I said, this is a beginner course and that’s what it really is. If you are looking to take your Live chops to the next level, this is NOT the course for you. I think it’s a great choice for those who are considering Live and want to see what it can do and how difficult it is to use. Even as a beginner, it will leave you hungry for more. And if you want to continue with Live, that’s actually a good thing.
Here’s the key thing about this course – it’s FREE! And it’s presented by the folks who know what they’re doing. But it is a beginner course, it’s short, and at this point, it’s even slightly outdated. However, if you just want to try things out and not spend a dime, go for it. Once you’ve completed it, you’ll have a very good idea about where you are in regards to Live and if you want to take it further.
If on the other hand, you like to dive in deep from the get-go, keep reading and I’ll give you some other options. While I might take this course as a total beginner, I would not spend my money on a certificate. For its price, you can get several of these courses below and get extend your knowledge which is much more valuable than a piece of paper.
Music Production in Ableton Live 10 – The Complete Course!
While not a course for total beginners, this quality in-depth Ableton Live 10 course will show you how to create, record, and edit your own music.
As always, there’s a great value course to be found on Udemy. This is by far the most comprehensive Ableton Live training I could find. But again, it is not for newbies. It doesn’t start at the very beginning and it goes into details in areas that would be considered advanced or at least intermediate.
It covers the following areas:
- Setting-up and navigating around Ableton Live 10
- Recording, editing, and creating interesting beats
- Warping and editing sound samples and loops
- Using synths, samplers, and racks
- Synthesis and sound design in Live 10
- Audio and MIDI effects
- Building your own track from scratch
- Avoiding common problems and mistakes
- Creating great sounding songs in Live 10
- Improving your music production skills
“This video was great, at first the software looked daunting and I had no idea where to begin as a beginner. I now have a general idea of how the software works.”
“Incredibly succinct course. The perfect intro to Ableton basic functions. Would absolutely recommend this course to anyone looking to start producing on Ableton.”
“It’s really intuitive, easy to digest, Tom constantly asks us to spend time after each lecture to practice what was taught which is really helpful & practical.”
Tomas George is a music producer, composer, and sound engineer from the UK. He has a Masters in Music Production and a BA in Music Composition. He is a full-time music producer and instructor.
He works with both Live and Logic and has had successful courses for each software before as well as a course in music theory for electronic music producers. He has been creating music for over ten years now.
Ableton Live is a very capable piece of software so any training for it is not going to be exactly simple. If you read the reviews for this course, you will find quite a few newbies that were very happy with this the instruction. But there were others that weren’t able to follow. This is not a fault of the course – it was simply not designed to cover all that ground.
If you are new to Live or music production, you may want to take one of Tom’s FREE introductory Live courses first and then continue with this one. There are Music Production in Ableton Live 9 – The Beginners Guide! and Music Production – 7 Essentials in Ableton Live 9! He has even more free Ableton Live courses if you need them! But don’t spend too much time there – maybe just enough to get your feet wet.
Get started with his Live 10 course because that’s where the real value is!
Ableton Push – Workflow and Production
Just a quick mention of this fine Ableton Push course. It has thousands of students and the current rating of 4.5. There’s no point in you taking this course if you don’t have Push.
If you are still considering it or trying to figure out what it does and if it’s for you, then just go on YouTube and find the answers to your questions. Once you have bought Push, take this course. It is great for beginners although it does cover some intermediate uses of Ableton Push.
Noiselab Electronic Music Production
A number of courses about different applications of Ableton Live.
I have talked about Noiselab before in my music production course reviews. They are an online community of musicians and producers who actively use Ableton products They don’t only have courses – they sell MIDI loops and sample packs too. All of their training is delivered on the highest level as it’s done by certified Ableton trainers.
The only downside I see with Noiselab is the claim that new courses are added monthly. I don’t think that’s the case as they’ve been around for a long time and at the moment I’m counting only 34 courses total. But for our purposes, that doesn’t matter.
Here are the Live courses available at Noiselab:
- Ableton Live 10 Overview
- Ableton Live Hacks I: Creating Ideas
- Ableton Live Hacks II: Developing Ideas
- Ableton Live Hacks III: Finishing Ideas
- Deconstructing Songs for Live Performance
- Performing with Ableton Live
- Ableton Live Customizations and Hidden Features
- DJing with Ableton Live
Thavius Beck is a producer, a musician, and Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He has worked with Nine Inch Nails, Skylar Grey, The Mars Volta, Saul Williams, and many others.
He’s instructed numerous Live students through private lessons, courses at music institutes, and in dozens of Ableton Live workshops that he’s held across the country.
Paul Laski (P-LASK) is also an Ableton Certified Trainer with over six years of teaching experience at DubSpot New York and Icon Collective Music Production School in Los Angeles.
Paul has been involved in the electronic music scene for over a decade as a producer, remixer, sound designer, DJ, and educator. He has an extensive and impressive list of artists he has remixed.
When you buy any course, you get lifetime access to that course. But their individual courses are pretty pricey! In reality, they’re not too expensive for all the value that you get but only when you compare it to the other courses that are available. Luckily for us, with all the competition, online learning has become quite inexpensive so we have certain pricing expectations.
That’s why I would not recommend outright buying any one course because, for the price of one, you can get about two months worth of access to all the courses! If you think it may take you six months to go through the courses, then you can consider yearly access.
Now, they also have a lifetime membership. As I mentioned, their list of courses has not been growing that much. However… if you want to have lifetime access to all the courses and any that they make in the future, this is actually a pretty good option as well.
Maybe the smartest approach would be to try it out with a one-month subscription and see how that goes. There is even a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee so you’re covered!
Ableton House Producer Collection
There are many – and I mean many – Ableton Live and related courses available on this platform. This bundle is just one that you can get and it includes seven different Live courses!
Loopmasters is known as a sound design record label from the UK. They release sample packs for all major music software that is used by electronic music producers: Ableton, Steinberg, Native Instruments, Apple, Propellerheads, and more. They were also among the first to start publishing samples from renowned DJs, performers, and producers.
When it comes to training courses on Loopmasters, they’re held by Producertech. They are an online education company that is fully certified by Ableton.
Very few of their courses are for beginners. Their training is made for active electronic music producers and performers who are not looking to just soak up information but are ready to take action and apply the knowledge in their music productions right away.
Ableton House Producer Collection is geared towards house music creators and it includes the following courses:
- Techno and Tech House Production in Live
- In the Studio with Santé
- Remixing Techniques in Live
- Martin Eyerer Creates Tech House in Live
- House and Techno Groove Production Masterclass
- Future House and EDM Production in Live
- Tribal and Tech House Production in Live
They have another smaller House Production In Live bundle:
- Techno & Tech House Production in Live By Paul Maddox
- Martin Eyerer Creates Tech House in Live
- Tribal & Tech House Production in Live
- The Making of ‘Do You Wanna 808’ by Sante
I must admit that I am totally overwhelmed myself with all the choices available here! So rather than go in depth with any course or these bundles that you may not be interested in because house music is a very specific topic, I’d rather point out some of the other choices you have at Loopmasters.
There is an Ableton Expert bundle that includes these four courses:
- Complete Guide to Sampling by Rob Jones
- Complete Guide to Operator by Rob Jones
- Analog Bass Patch Sound Design by Seppa
- Bass Mixing Techniques by Seppa
They have many other bundles as well but they’re not geared towards Ableton products. However, I was trying to round up the list of what else is there that’s Ableton-related and it quickly got out of hand. So I’ll just give you a very brief summary.
As far as I could count, there are a total of 18 courses that are Live and Push specific! In addition to that, there are 10 other courses that cover Ableton synths or use Live to teach a music production skill or technique. Wow!
When you’re ready to take your Ableton skills to the next level, this is the place for you. Similarly, if you are interested in using Live for any of these specific types of electronic music, again, you have found your home. Or should I say “house” 🙂
And there you have it.
I realize that the simplest way may have been to pick one course and give you a very in-depth review of it. However, that doesn’t make sense to me. We all have very different specific interests and are at different points in our education path. Not only that, but we all have different learning preferences and may like or dislike certain instructors or platforms. And not to mention the price points.
That’s why I always do my best to give you direction, some opinions, point out any problems or particular advantages and ultimately leave it to you to make the decision that’s the best for you.
Good luck and enjoy your Live journey.