Tips For Organizing a Workshop

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Tips For Organizing a Workshop

Guidelines For Organizing a Workshop


Finding an appropriate location can be a challenge. The good thing is, once you’ve found one, it will never be an issue again. For a small group of 3 −12 people, the requirements are:

  • Sufficient seats, one large or more smaller tables (with an even surface)
  • Protection from noise and direct sunlight (and weather)
  • Electricity, broadband WIFI
  • Beamer & PA is fine, but not necessary (see below)
  • Food & drink supply nearby
  • Overnight accommodation nearby, if necessary

That’s everything. You might wonder why I'm listing these obvious things? Well, I figured that even outdoor, mobile and other unusual locations might work as well. Hence this rather abstract check list.

But where to look for a room? Be creative. If a member with a studio lives nearby, that could be an option. Educational or public institutions may offer seminar rooms, possibly for free.  Regular rents for seminar rooms are lower than you might think. For a very small group up to 3, even a motel room, RV or outdoor place could possibly work.


Before a meeting takes place, all members should be clear about their agenda and expectations. Since a workshop is about getting inspiration, exchanging ideas and learning something, all attendees should note down their questions and ideas beforehand to same time.

Discuss your agenda on the SUG’s forum before you meet in person. This will minimize the time wasted on location for things other than making music. Moreover, since your discussion is public, it will inspire other SUGs.


If the room is rented or other expenses are involved, be clear about the total cost and final number of attendees, so everyone knows in advance how much to contribute.


If the group is more than three, think about using an online appointment planner for finding a date and time that works for all. From my experience, relying on emails only can be a real hassle ( If the group gets larger than 10-15, you might want to organize and publish it on However, this is not recommend for smaller groups. 




While a HD beamer would be nice, potential hassle with adapters, cables and laptop setup can eat much time. Be sure you know the cables and adapters your laptop needs. Don’t even think of a beamer, if your group isn’t at least 6 people. Also keep in mind that you will be running Synfire and/or a DAW rather than presenting slides. A beamer's real estate is usually too small for that anyway.

Small groups can more easily gather around a person’s laptop and follow the presentation that way. Lean is king. If someone with a car can bring a 22“ or larger LCD, laptop adapter and cable, that’s a great alternative to a beamer for a small group.


If there’s a PA available at the venue, great. Know your adapters and bring a few alternative cables, just in case. A very long cable that plugs into a laptop’s headphone jack is very useful for connecting different laptops as needed, without moving them around.

Also consider simple portable laptop speakers (e.g. Logitech Z305). The sound is so so, so if the group is doing orchestral music or wants to have more fun, a small portable PA may be interesting (Behringer Europort EPA150 looks great, but haven't tried). For small groups up to 4, a multi-output headphone amp might also work (Take care of your hearing).

Keyboards & Controllers

Keyboard-wise, a KORG nanoKEY is the smallest option available (size of two chocolate bars), although it is only good for simple input tasks. There are so many light-weight keyboard controllers available today, this should not be an issue.

Synfire & Your Laptop

Synfire runs fine on 4 cores (i5, i7, MacBook Pro) with 8 GB RAM and sufficient disk space to accommodate a basic collection of sample-based sounds (consider an external HDD for large sound libraries). It may take 1-2 days to configure a mobile studio. Once it's set up, it only needs to be updated every now and then.

Remember a workshop is about workflow and how to accomplish things. You need not take your entire sound collection with you! Also, if your device descriptions have been created properly, loading arrangements that were created elsewhere should not be an issue.


Shared Equipment Checklist

  1. Portable laptop speakers, or portable PA
  2. 22“ or greater LCD with adapters & long cable


Individual Equipment Checklist

  1. Laptop with Synfire and other required Software installed
  2. Extra sounds on portable USB drive, if needed
  3. Mouse, if needed (usually easier with Synfire than a trackpad)
  4. Power adapter
  5. Monitor adapter (laptop -> HDMI/DVI)
  6. Audio adapter, if not standard 3,5“ headphone jack
  7. Portable laptop speakers, or headhones
  8. USB hub
  9. iLok

Let me know if I missed something. I'll add it to the guide.


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