Music recording classes teach valuable skills to more than aspiring music professionals

student in front of recording equipment, moving buttonsStudents don’t have to desire to be famous or even stay in the music industry to benefit from the music recording classes at Durham Tech.

That is just one of the points that instructor and co-owner of Playground Studios, LLC, in Durham, Chaka Harley, wants to impress upon his classes.

“My whole passion behind this is to help people learn a professional trade that they can then market and make a way for themselves,” Harley said.

Since last spring, Durham Tech has partnered with Playground Studios to offer the music classes. Playground is a full-service recording facility that Harley owns with spousal team Marion and Justine Wiggins.

So far, the classes have attracted a variety of students.

“(We’ve had) anyone from those who just want to learn how to make beats to those who have more experience,” Harley said. “I have some students who are more into live sounds. Some that are older, younger, male, female. I have been really happy to see a really diverse base of students.”

Student Marshall Helgesen, who has been a songwriter, producer, engineer, and beat maker for around five years, said he’s interested in management.

When he discovered the Advanced Audio Recording class last semester, he decided to enroll in order to enhance his talents.

“I enjoy it a lot,” Helgesen said. “Every time that I ask a question, it is always open and welcomed. Everyone’s opinion or whatever they want to say is heard. I think it is important in this particular field to get whatever you have to say off your chest.”

One of the lessons that stood out to him was about sound treatment and how to create the right environment to effectively produce and listen to artists’ pieces.

“If they are interested in going into music production or anything music-related, they should take this course to sharpen their skills,” Helgesen said. “The course is highly valuable for anyone who wishes to increase their own value.”

For those wanting a behind-the-scenes music career, Harley recommends audio engineering.

“Audio engineering is number one,” he said. “If you know how to do audio engineering, then it is going to last forever. Sound is going to stay the same. It is not going to change.”

Other engineering jobs include recording engineer, mixing engineer, master engineer, assistant engineer, and live sound engineer.

The classes at Playground can also benefit those who want to build their own music equipment; edit audio for music, TV, film, radio, and live events; run live sound for events; or even want to understand more about the business side in order to enter into jobs like entertainment law and producing.

“Music is more than just being the artist,” Harley said. “There’s more people now with computers than ever before, so there is more music (and more clients) than ever before.”

A Music Business class and an Introduction to Audio Recording class will be offered beginning this month.

For more information on Playground Studios, visit

For more information on the upcoming courses, visit