I do not claim to teach this subject as an authority on making music. I am a novice and always will be. All I want to do is tell you how I do what I do. And that is it.

Making music is a fun and interesting task and doesn't cost much money, if you know where to look for resources. I will provide a short tutorial on how to make music for yourself! It's really fun to do and can make you feel better when you're down.

For starters, you'll need a DAW (digital audio workstation). I love Ableton personally. You can get the cheap version here: Ableton Live Lite. If you're serious about making music, I'd just skip over the Lite version and buy the Standard version instead. It gives you more sounds and lets you put down more tracks (basically for sound layering) for each song. The track limitation of the Lite version, I remember was annoying.

Find a good pair of headphones. I have a pair of Audio Technica ones that have lasted years. This link will send you to a pair that you can get from Amazon.

You will need a microphone for singing. Yes, singing. Putting in your vocals (better yet, singing!) can add cool effects, even if you aren't really much of a singer. (At least, this is my opinion!) I have a Mac laptop with a microphone built in, so I use that. If you don't have a mic built into your computer or you think that's not adequate for you, you could try finding one on Amazon. For a while, I used a Yeti mic when I had another laptop. It cost $99. That worked fairly well.

You will need a keyboard. One that has been phenomenal for me is the midiplus AKM320 32 key MIDI Keyboard Controller. It's under $40. It has few keys, but it meets my needs.

Once you download your DAW, you will be overwhelmed with all the sounds and effects that the program will offer you. You may want to just play with them all when you load up the program. Here is a 15 minute beginner's tutorial.

If you want to use samples from other people but in a way that is legal and won't get you into any trouble, try Sample Focus and Splice. They've been the best resources I've found so far, with a minimal monthly fee (for SampleFocus, you start paying the fee once you download several samples).

Once you become acquainted with the program, understand that there are things called plug-ins (they're on the sidebar in Ableton, under Sounds, Drums, Instruments, etc.). That is where "VSTs" (plugins from third-parties) go. Plug-ins are very fun to use.

By far the most helpful plugin I have ever used is Captain Chords (as well as Captain Deep, Captain Beat, and Captain Melody). The Captain plugins help you to craft songs. Try navigating their website to see what they're all about. It's very fun using the Captain VSTs.

The following plugins are free ones you can download and add to your program.

A really helpful plugin that you can use with your keyboard is called Chord Prism. It makes it so that whatever plugin you use to make particular sounds, you can set the output to feature particular keys/scales. It's really useful.

One last thing—Beatskillz is a pretty good website for finding affordable plugins. And Splice, which I mentioned is great for using samples, is also good as a rent-to-own service for plugins.

Good luck! You can email me at lydia.v.eck@gmail.com if you have any questions :)