Why People Are Struggling To Learn Synthesis

(Hint: It's Not About Knowledge or Talent)

Reason #1: “I don't even know where to start...”

What if I told you what you need to know in order to create an amazing pad sound, sculpt a perfect piano sound, make a punchy synth bass or a searing lead... all start with the same fundamental knowledge?

What if that same foundation would give you the knowledge and understanding to start learning how to use compression the studio, eq for live sound, and understand crucial aspects of mixing audio?

Now imagine that you could learn that foundational knowledge in about 2 1/2 hours. 

(And it might even be fun - I'll tell you more about that later :)

It might be hard to believe, but it's true.

The concepts you need to know in order to make amazing sounds on your keyboard, overlap with so many of the concepts you'll find in studio production, live audio production, and more.

Synthesis and Sound Design concepts are universal and apply to every genre, approach, and style in music. The same tech you need to know to make a filter "zap" is the same tech you need to know to make a compressor sing.

But, in reality, most of us feel intimidated, overwhelmed, and frustrated with our setup - when we should be feeling empowered and unstoppable!

That youth worship team eventually turned into Jesus Culture, and that Sunday worship team eventually turned into Bethel Music.

As our team grew and became more ambitious, we started incorporating more and more technology into our sound.

It started with just some better sounds from Reason, some effects in Ableton, and grew into sequencing, sound design, running complex tracks arrangements via Ableton, and syncing it all to Lights and Video.

It was hard!

And here's the thing - there weren't any real resources to learn from when I started.

Outside of a few DJ type approaches to computer audio, there was very very little to go by as we were growing...

I literally wrote the book on some of these ideas!

I learned synthesis and sound design by mashing buttons on an old Alesis QS8, and learned to run tracks in Ableton through trial and error...

It sucked! (Haha!)

The difference is that you don't have to go at it alone.

You don't have to conjure the drive and passion and discipline I did in order to learn these otherwise complex topics.

You can learn it straight from the source...

More on that in a minute...

First, a question.

Learn the secrets of sound design and synthesis that you'll use for the rest of your life (in music).

There Are TWO Reasons Why You’re Avoiding Creating You Own Sounds...

How Comfortable Do You Feel With Your Software/Synth/Setup?

Reason #2: “I don't understand half of what I see in my synth/software editing functions.”

Ready To Learn A Superpower?

More and more it seems that people are turning to actually purchasing presets and patches... and many give up entirely on learning their gear...

And it makes sense!

It's never been more complicated to learn how to be a proficient keys/synth player - especially at church.

It takes an immense amount of time to learn and effectively implement new ideas, sounds, tech, etc...

Here are just a few things keys players have to navigate with their setup these days:

  • Playing and designing unique sounds across genres (synths, Rhodes, textures, drones, pianos, sometimes beats) 
  • Troubleshooting their gear (clicks, pops, glitches) 
  • Handling smooth transitions between songs 
  • Running backing tracks and syncing to video/lights 

It's also worth mentioning that you are expected to be able to make sense of this...

Are you playing on high end gear, but still just playing someone else's presets?

I Figured It Out Alone... It Wasn't Easy...

Most people spend their time playing, practicing and/or performing on GREAT gear.

Churches are a great example of this - how many huge workstation keyboards - Montages, Motifs, Tritons, Oasys etc have churches bought?

The question is: How are you utilizing that software/hardware?

After all, there's no point in working software like Omnisphere, Reason, MainStage or Synthmaster... or hardware like Moogs, Junos, Oasys --- and not taking full advantage of it.

For example, how many of you are using a powerful multi thousand dollar synthesizer 

(Whether a laptop and software or workstation keyboard) and still just playing a bunch of presets?

It's like buying a bunch of workout equipment and letting it collect dust in your garage. If you never use the equipment... you'll never get fit.

It's the same with Synthesis and Sound Design.

If you don't learn HOW and WHY to do certain things with your software... you're leaving huge, vast amounts of potential on the table.

Why not change that?

I can help!

... in order to somehow create a specific type of sound.  (Look like  a piano to you?)

It's crazy, right?

But here's the real problem:

If you simply use everyone else's presets, you'll do fine at sounding nice, but never really define your own sound. 

No good.

Worse yet, as you train the habit, it becomes harder and harder to really dive in master your gear.

To really get the full benefit of your gear, mixed with the creativity of your unique talent, you need to learn how it all works..

The question is, how do you go about it in 2018 and beyond?

I understand why people struggle with synthesis and sound design because they say the SAME things every time.

“I wish I didn't have to use so much technology...”

“I miss the days when jamming on the piano was enough..."

"I love the sounds, but the software itself is so confusing..."

“How do I even go about starting to learn any of this?”

People haven't figured out how to love the tech yet.

It's still a barrier between them and the music they passionately love to create.

But whatever you inner voice says, if you are struggling with your software or hardware... struggling with synthesis and sound design... it’s for one of two reasons…

I'm Ian McIntosh, the keys player behind Jesus Culture, and the founder of Synth University.You may have heard me on one of a bunch of albums I've recorded on - albums by Jesus Culture, Bethel, Kari Jobe, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Red Rocks Worship, and more.

You might think I've got it all figured out.

The truth is, however, my story isn't all that different than yours.

I grew up in the church, learning music in the evenings after school, playing on the high school youth worship team, and eventually on Sundays.

People don't know how to start.

And honestly, it makes sense.

I remember hitting the edit button on a Yamaha Motif8 10 years ago for the first time... or first opening Reason and trying to just figure out what to do.

It's tough!

That's why I teach the underlying CONTEXT behind concepts.

Students get the whole picture - why a term or feature is important... not just what it is.

This helps the student gain tremendous MOMENTUM.

Each new thing they learn is easier and more effortless than the last.

And again, I totally understand why people feel this way.

The specific terminology in a synthesizer sounds like it came straight out of an engineering course in college.

Attack, oscillators, waveforms, envelopes, BPF, Resonance,modulation, Q, Frequency, matricies... and that's just language - knowing what to do with those things is a whole other deal!

But what if I told you it's really not too hard to understand.

What if I told you that, when explained properly and effectively... it's really pretty intuitive?

I've worked with people of all ages and all experiences who have learned - quickly - how to approach and navigate their software and hardware with ease.

Have you ever struggled to learn something complicated - and suddenly it just "clicked?"

Whether another language, how to use a specific tool to build something amazing, or your golf swing...

I'd bet everyone here knows what it means to have a "lightbulb" moment when it comes to learning something.

But has it every occurred to you that those lightbulb moments don't have to be "random"?

My point is this...

What if it's not the content being complicated that is the issue... what if it's the way it's learned?

I believe it is. I mean - why not?!?!

And I've seen it happen.

I've shared and explained otherwise complicated and complex topics in really simple to understand ways - using exaggerated examples along with useful examples - the results have been amazing.

I've taught technologically and musically illiterate people what a filter is and how it could be used in 10 minutes.

I've taught people with no time whatsoever to practice and learn how to identify what is making a sound "POP."

The question is, how?

Well, I’ve got good news:


For the first time, I'm sharing Intro To Synthesis independently from other training.

I've helped train well over 1500 keys/synth players from around the world how to use their software and synths in order to reach their creative potential. 

Here's what a few have said...

This is a video crash course in synthesis, sound design, and learning about how it all works.

In just 2 hours of HD video, learn how to create pads and leads from scratch, and tweak and morph existing sounds to your hearts content.

You'd normally have to be a part of Synth University (or other online schools I've shared this with) in order to learn these invaluable concepts.

Here's what's included:

By the end of part 3, you'll know:

  • How to create a simple pad. (from scratch)
  • How to create sounds by recreating the flow in older synths of yore. (from scratch)
  • How to create a useful lead (from scratch)
  • How to modify a piano in order to create a pad (really)
  • Hardware examples
  • How this informs on live performance

By the end of part 2, you'll know:

  • How synthesizers make sound.
  • The Subtractive Theory - and how you'll see it EVERYWHERE in music.
  • Where to start when creating patches
  • Where to go when you want to modify a specific part of a sound.
  • How to modify tone, time, and create interest in your sounds
  • LFOs
  • Envelopes
  • Filters
  • Oscillators
  • Effects
  • Pitch
  • (more more more)

Video Training Part 3: Useful Examples

Video Training Part 1: The Background

In Part 1, I'll share the background of synthesis and why it's important for understanding modern keys/synths - whether software or hardware.

By the end of part 1, you’ll know: 

  • At a basic level, the history of how synths were created.
  • The difference between the 80's and now in synths.
  • What to take away from it in order to thrive today.

In Part 3, I get straight to the point. You'll see me create a variety of sounds from scratch, and how to utilize these ideas in the real world.

Video Training Part 2: The Synthesis Machine

But don't take it from me...

In Part 2, I’ll dive into the exact process that drives every modern synth out there (not exaggerating.)


Intro To Synthesis is 100% RISK FREE.

If you feel like you don't get far greater than the $30 value from the training material, email my support team at (info AT ianmcintoshmusic DOT com), show us you actually watched the videos and did the assignments, and we'll happily refund your full payment.

The best part is this:

If you think there's a "slight chance" Intro To Synthesis can help you, you should enroll today.

Because you can try the material... and see if it's right for you over the next 14 days. 

If it works, your keys/synth world will never be the same. 

You'll be able to stop feeling overwhelmed by your gear, start feeling excited to edit, customize and create sounds, and finally put your own creative spin on your work.


There's no restriction, and you'll retain access. However, I always like to put forever in quotes. The reason is that 15-20 years from now... who knows what the Internet even looks like. I don't want to make promises about what will be online when I'm 90. Ha! However, even if I were to need to take them down for some reason, I'd more than likely give students download access. Let's put it this way... I ran a program in 2009/2010 called Digital Ninjas... I haven't taken down the videos yet. It's been 8-9 years. Ha. So don't worry! You'll keep the videos... "forever"?

Are you going to revoke access? Is there a time limit?

QUESTION: What Gear Do I Need?


Are there any specific things I need in order to utilize what's being taught?

QUESTION: How Long Do I Have Access?

ANSWER: It Almost Doesn't Matter!

ANSWER: Pretty Much "Forever..."

The fact is, nearly every synth and keyboard runs off the same concepts. Here's the main thing to consider - if you don't have the ability to "edit" a sound... you probably won't be able to do much with the info. (Most Digital Pianos don't have edit/design capability...) So - almost any software setup (Omni, MainStage, Reason, PT, etc...) or hardware synth (Moog/DaveSmith/Arp/etc) or workstation (Korg/Roland/Yamaha) will have the capabilities inside. I'm using Reason + Ableton for examples - that's what I use... but it really makes little difference.