Synths for Beginners

Adult & Youth Workshops for Beginners of All Ages

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Join composer & technologist, Alex Christie for a hands-on virtual Synthesizer workshop. Youth workshops series is FREE. Adult single-session workshops are pay-what-you-can (in support of free youth workshops).

From movie soundtracks to Electro-Pop to Hip-Hop to Experimental Music, synthesizers have shaped the way we make and think about sound. These electronic instruments can do everything from sculpt alien soundscapes to create dance-floor-shaking drum beats.

But how do they work? What might seem like overly complicated science is actually pretty straightforward once you get your hands dirty. The best way to learn about synthesizers is to play with synthesizers!

In this series of workshops we will use the synthesis software VCV Rack (free!) to build our own digital modular synthesizers that will allow us to explore new and exciting sound worlds. We will learn about the basic components of electronic sound and how these can be arranged to create new music. Participants will compose their own pieces and design their own digital electronic music instruments. Let’s demystify synthesis and make a bunch of fun noise! No experience necessary!

Adult Workshop:

Offered 3 times* limit of 8 participants per workshop. Pay-what-you-can. All funds raised will support free multi-session synth workshops for youngsters!

  • Wednesday, 1/20 6:00-8:00 PM EST
  • Saturday, 1/23, 2:00-4:00 PM EST
  • Monday, 1/25, 6:00-8:00 PM EST

*please note: this is the same workshop–just offered 3 times for your convenience. Depending on enrollment we will ask that you only take the workshop once to allow for others to participate as well.

Youth Programs:

Each youth workshop consists of 5 free sessions on consecutive Sundays. We’re offering 2 youth workshop groups to best serve different age groups. If your child is younger than 10 years old and you feel like the would be a good fit, please reach out to Alex at 

Workshop Group 1 (ages 10-13):

  • Sunday, 1/31, 2:00-3:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/7, 2:00-3:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/14, 2:00-3:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/28, 2:00-3:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 3/7, 2:00-3:30 PM EST

Workshop Group 2 (ages 14-18):

  • Sunday, 1/31, 4:00-5:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/7, 4:00-5:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/14, 4:00-5:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 2/28, 4:00-5:30 PM EST
  • Sunday, 3/7, 4:00-5:30 PM EST

Materials and required equipment:
While some familiarity with the Zoom audio conferencing platform will be useful, no previous musical or audio technology experience is necessary. Workshops will use the free software VCV Rack and will be led on the Zoom audio conferencing platform. Here is what you will need in order to participate:

  • Reliable internet connection
  • Access to a computer during workshop hours (the synthesis software we will be using does not run on tablets or phones)
  • A pair of headphones or earbuds (not required, but very very helpful)
  • A zoom account:

Not able to join but still want to support this great project? Donate to The Bridge to keep art programming accessible for all.

Your Teacher:
Alex Christie is a composer, technologist, and instrument-builder based in Charlottesville, VA. His work frequently combines electronics, sound, interactive light, and theater, in order to create multi-modal performance experiences.

He holds degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory and Mills College and is currently a doctoral candidate in Composition and Computer Technologies at the University of Virginia. Previously, Alex taught as a lecturer in Music Composition at Santa Clara University. He currently serves as faculty and Director of Electronic Music at the Walden School of Music, an organization that provides immersive music programs for children and adults.

Alex has enjoyed being involved with the Bridge and Charlottesville music scene since 2016. He is a co-curator of the Bridge-hosted series SOLOS and a frequent performer on the Telemetry series. His industrial techno band Altra just released their debut album VISEX, available on DKA records. He also enjoys baseball and geometric shapes.