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Create music at Ruth E. Dickinson branch

Photo of music editing station, with music keyboard, Mac Pro, monitor and accessories.

If you’ve been to the Teen Zone of Ruth E. Dickinson branch lately, you may have noticed two large desks with music keyboards on them. These are a pilot project at OPL to allow teens (or anyone with a library card) to reserve them for up to two hours at a time to experiment with digital music creation.

Each keyboard is connected to a Mac Pro computer with specialized music software:

  • GarageBand

    • The fun and easy-to-use software that ships with the Mac Operating System for creating music and mixing demo recordings.
  • Ableton Live
    • Popular software for creating Electronic Dance Music (EDM).
  • Logic Pro X
    • Professional-grade music software, with an interface similar to GarageBand’s.
  • MuseScore
    • An open-source music notation program for creating sheet music.

You can reserve the stations online through the website ( When you arrive you can use your library card to borrow a box of accessories, including a keyboard, mouse and headphones. (Included is a headphone splitter jack if you want to experiment with a friend – although they’ll have to bring their own headphones.)

The software includes hundreds of digital instrument samples – from synthesizers to clarinets – so you should be able to let your imagination roam free and create anything from a string quartet to grunge rock. Alas if you’re a guitar player you’ll need to brush up on basic keyboard skills, as we haven’t provided an instrument interface. And similarly we don’t have a sound studio for live recording with microphones. Although if you record off site and bring a sound file to your session, you are welcome to import it and mix your creation down to a finished song on our equipment.

When you book a session, you will be responsible for supplying your own storage media (such as a flash drive) for saving your work.

If you’re intrigued and would like to get a feel for the software and for working with the MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) format, the online resource offers a number of excellent training guides. Here is a sample of online help available:

Background and Recommended Resources



What is Midi? (web page)

The Midi Manual (title from catalogue)

Digital Audio Foundations course from




GarageBand Essential Training from

Learning Songwriting with GarageBand from

Ableton Live intro



Learning Ableton Live 9 from

Ableton Live 9 Tips and Tricks from

Ableton Live 9 Programming Beats from

Ableton Help

Logic Pro X intro



Learning Songwriting with Logic Pro from

Logic Pro X Essential Training from

Logic Pro Advanced Audio Production (book in catalogue)

Musescore Intro

Musescore Handbook available at

Finally, if you want to get a sense of what you can make and what some of the digital instruments sound like, here are two sample creations, both made with Logic Pro X.

An orchestral excerpt:

A kind of hybrid 1970’s-esque funk band: