How To Compose with MIDI and Virtual Instruments by Forte Composer Academy

How To Compose with MIDI and Virtual Instruments

Learn how to set up a composing workstation, control Virtual Instruments like a pro, and create realistic and compelling music on your computer. 

Feeling inspired yet overwhelmed by computer-based composition?

As composers, we live in an exciting and inspiring age as the rapid advancement of music technology has made some truly incredible tools available to pretty much anyone. A kid can compose and produce professional music on his computer in his bedroom, which is crazy awesome. 

But navigating the ocean of hardware and software options can be a very daunting and seemingly overwhelming prospect for the beginner, as there are not only many great options out there but also many technical pitfalls just waiting for beginners to stumble into. 

When I first began my journey composing on the computer in 2005, I found myself slogging through technical headache after technical headache, and felt like giving up countless times. Over the years, I've hard to learn the hard way, by scraping together whatever knowledge I could from wherever I could, and getting to where I am today has taken a lot longer than it could have. But beyond the technical stuff, I had absolutely no clue how to craft compelling performances with MIDI and Virtual Instruments, and had to experiment (fail) for many years before starting to make measurable progress. 

Gratefully, there are way more resources for learning out there today that when I was first starting (including a lot of great free content), but finding it laid out in a systematic way that is organized to be helpful to the beginner is harder to come by. 

This has led me to create the systematic, yet simple course on the art and craft of computer-based composing that I wish I'd had when I was first starting out on this journey. 

In This Practical Course For Beginners You Will Learn:

  • Basic Concepts and Definitions of Terms (MIDI, DAWs, Sample Libraries, Virtual Instruments, etc.)
  • What hardware you need to get started (Computers, Keyboards & Controllers, Headphones & Speakers, Audio Interfaces, etc)
  • What Software considerations you need to make to get started (Platform, DAWs, drivers, etc.)
  • How to wade through the plethora of great virtual instruments to get the best bang for your buck
  • Complete Workstation options for varying budgets 
  • How to use basic DAW features and functions
  • How to use Virtual Instruments for maximum expression and realism potential
  • How Benjamin Botkin (me) creates a piece of orchestral music ("The Heart of a Hero") from beginning to end
  • Virtual Orchestration basics, layering, performing, MIDI editing, composition techniques
  • Mixing and Mastering Basics
  • And lots of other mind-numbingly awesome (Ok, maybe just mind-numbing) stuff

Start with Nothing - Finish with a Completed Piece of Music!

After we walk through the process of setting everything up, I will teach you how to create this piece of music ("The Heart of a Hero") from beginning to end in realtime (well, basically--It's recorded in advance), as you watch me do exactly that and explain my complete process. Then when you reach the end of the course and have created your own musical masterpiece, send it to me for personalized feedback!

Included in This Course:

  • 27 lessons (Over 13.5 Hours Total) of Practical Video Instruction and Demonstration (lifetime access)
  • Extensive course notes
  • MIDI files for personal Study
  • Personalized Instructor Feedback on your completed composition assignment
  • Audio Stems for your own Mixing and Mastering exercise
  • Gear & Equipment Suggestions (by budget size)
  • Software & Virtual Instrument suggestions (by budget size)
  • Access to Private Forte Composer Academy Facebook Community Support group
  • Complete Course Audio (listen in the car! yay!)
  • Resource List for Further Learning

  • Those who are excited by the prospect of Creating Compelling Music with computers
  • Those who have the inner drive to fuel their own music educations 
  • Those who have a basic or intermediate (or above) knowledge of music. You do not need to be a virtuoso, music theory nerd, or even be able to read music (although that obviously a good thing!). If you have an internal love of music and possess a basic working understanding of terms like "melody", "chords", "octave", then you can get a lot out of this course. 
  • Those who have a basic or intermediate (or above) knowledge of computers. You do not need to be an IT specialist or even be naturally tech savvy (I'm absolutely not!). If you know how to swap out a harddrive in your computer (or know how to figure this out), then you can do this. However, if the prospect of doing something technical of that scale is completely daunting to you, then... this course (and maybe this profession) is probably not for you. 
  • Those who have particular interest in the ORCHESTRAL/CINEMATIC side of things. That's what I know best, so that is the emphasis of the course.  The principles apply to other genres, but you will get most out of the course if orchestral-based composition is in your plans.


  • Those who expect every single technical detail or problem to be solved for them. This course is a ROADMAP, but it is not encyclopedic. However, the private Facebook group is a good place to raise specific tech questions that are specific to your setup or background. Also, google is your friend. 
  • Those who expect answers to their questions about "making it" as a musician financially. This is NOT a business course in any way, shape, or form. 
  • Those who expect to learn how to use notation software like Sibelius, Finale, and Dorico. The whole angle of the course is MIDI and DAW based. 
  • Those who want to learn about the specifics of composing for media. I have a separate course called Film Scoring for Beginners that focuses on Film and Media composing.
  • Those who want to get super audiophile-y about microphones and live recording and acoustic treatment and such. That is really cool stuff, but it's not covered in this course beyond the basics of what you need to start composing in a MIDI/VI ecosystem. 

What Others Are Saying about this Course

Rupert Schnitzler - Pianist/Composer

Satisfaction Guaranteed!

If you're not 100% satisfied with your course purchase, let me know within 30 days to receive a full refund.

What's included?

Video Icon 26 videos File Icon 9 files Text Icon 2 text files


1 - Welcome and About This Course
7 mins
2 - MIDI, DAWs, and Virtual Instruments Explained
13 mins
Hardware Explained: What You Will Need
3 - HARDWARE: Computers and Components
8 mins
4 - HARDWARE: Audio Interfaces + Soundcards
6 mins
5 - HARDWARE: Speakers and Headphones
7 mins
6 - HARDWARE: Midi Keyboards and Controllers
6 mins
Software Explained: What You Will Need
7 - SOFTWARE: DAWs and FX Plugins
18 mins
8- SOFTWARE: Virtual Instruments
11 mins
Hardware + Software Recommendations for your MIDI Workstation
9 - Complete MIDI Workstation Setup Configurations (Sorted by Budget)
How to Use the Tools and Control Virtual Instruments
10 - Getting to Know Your DAW
35 mins
11 - How to Build a Template
36 mins
12 - Managing Large Templates
9 mins
13 - Balancing Orchestral Instruments in a Template
13 mins
14 - Controlling Virtual Instruments (Part 1)
30 mins
15 - Controlling Virtual Instruments (Part 2)
40 mins
21 Tips for Bringing MIDI to Life (PDF)
106 KB
Composing Great Music from Beginning to End
16 - The Composer's Mindset and First Steps
14 mins
17 - Melody and Structure
36 mins
18 - Principles of Orchestration
13 mins
19 - Virtual Orchestration (Part 1)
46 mins
20 - Virtual Orchestration (Part 2)
(1h 53m 14s)
21 - Virtual Orchestration (Part 3)
(1h 20m 15s)
22 - Virtual Orchestration (Part 4)
(2h 03m 01s)
23 - Virtual Orchestration (Part 5)
48 mins
24 - Exporting Stems
17 mins
25 - Mixing
(1h 10m 29s)
26 - Mastering and File Export
25 mins
The Heart of a Hero AUDIO and MIDI Assets
537 MB
The Heart of a Hero STUDY MIDI TEMPO TRACK.smt
6.35 KB
The Heart of a Hero Feb19 320MP3.mp3
3 mins
Additional MIDI Files for Study
Hillsdale Western STUDY
37.6 KB
Hillsdale Theme STUDY
191 KB
Approaching Darkness STUDY
151 KB
Complete Course Audio
How to Compose for MIDI & VI COURSE
914 MB
27 - Course Conclusion and What's Next
3 mins
Course Completion Feedback Survey
Resource List for Further Learning

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