DAILY PROGRESS: Stressbusters: Start the new year learning to create synthesizer music

Jane Sathe Jan 16, 2021


Synthesizers can create everything from hip-hop hits to stirring special effects in film soundtracks to innovative experimental music. To share how synthesizers work, composer, technologist and instrument builder Alex Christie will lead virtual “Synths for Beginners” workshops for youths and adults through The Bridge Progressive Arts Initiative.

The workshops, which will start Wednesday, will use VCV Rack synthesis software to build digital modular synthesizers.

Participants will learn how to design digital musical instruments and then compose their own music.

VCV Rack software, found at https://VCV, is free. To participate in the workshop, you also will need a reliable internet connection; access to a computer during workshop hours, as the software will not run on tablets or phones; a pair of earbuds or headphones; and a Zoom account, which can be obtained at

Christie is pursuing a doctorate in composition and computer technologies at the University of Virginia, and he has degrees from Oberlin Conservatory and Mills College. He is a faculty member and director of electronic music at the Walden School of Music.

The Charlottesville-based musician is co-curator of the SOLOS series at The Bridge and frequently performs there as part of the Telemetry series.

Adults can attend on a pay-what-you-can basis at 6 p.m. Wednesday, 2 p.m. Saturday or 6 p.m. Jan. 25. The funds raised will help support synth workshops for young enthusiasts.

The youth workshops are free, and each includes five sessions. The workshop for ages 10 to 13 is offered at 2 p.m. Jan. 31, Feb. 7, Feb. 14, Feb. 28 and March 7; students ages 14 to 18 can attend at 4 p.m. on those dates.

The best part? You don’t need to have any previous experience.

There’s a limit of eight people per workshop. For details, go to