The problem: DAW files are notoriously not portable, and audio scrub bars are terribly boring to watch during playback. I want to get my students’ projects up on the big screen and speakers so I can hear and see the projects as they do at their station, with very few “oh well that didn’t work today” moments.

This is totally possible in software. This nifty trick is usually handled by a pricey piece of hardware (I’m looking at you…and you…and you). That’s not how I roll though – I like to do things MacGuyver style.

First you need some twine, a match, and silly putty a regular DAW that can host plugins. If you’re reading this blog you probably have that. (hint: GarageBand will work just fine). Now, go here yesterday and get Wormhole. It’s free. Go here and get Chicken of the VNC too (I’m assuming you’re on a Mac. If you don’t…wait I just checked my site logs – about 80% chance you do.)

OK, so the end goal is going to be grabbing any student computer’s audio and video and throwing it up on the projector and the big room speakers.

Before reading how I use it, you might want to read the Wormhole manual. Download the plugin, follow the install instructions and you can continue. (Protip: you can install audio plugins on a non-privileged machine. Just do it in the ~/user/library/audio/plugins/components folder. DAW’s look in there as well as in the root library folder. *Ahem*

In GarageBand (or your DAW of choice) have a file set up that uses Wormhole as an insert, has a small blank audio clip, and loops a very short section continuously. The audio clip is there for a bug that Plasq never patched, and the loop is to make sure you don’t miss any of the student’s audio once they hit play.

On the student’s machine, have them add Wormhole to a master track. Have them type their name in the box and hit enter. That’s it on their end.

At the teacher desk, open your premade project, open the Wormhole plugin, and select the student you want to hear. Hit play on your machine. Ask the student to hit play on theirs (or just do it through VNC for them). Voila – student audio coming through the teacher’s computer and sending out to the big speakers!

Chicken of the VNC is another no-brainer. This lets you see and control each students’ desktop. Not only is it useful for fixing a problem without walking across the room, it’s worth seeing the look on their face the first time you take over their computer. Love it.

Between VNC and Wormhole, we have a solution to virtualize all the output from a student station so everyone can see everyone’s projects on sharing day (you do sharing day right?) on the big screen with the big speakers.

Now doesn’t that make you feel all 21st century?

Author: Will Kuhn

I teach music technology to high schoolers. I do some other stuff too. @willkuhn on Twitter.