Best DAW’s for Music Education

Staying on top of the ever changing world of Music Technology can be quite a task. In this article we will be looking at what DAW’s are being used today and what works well in the educational environment.

What is a DAW?

A digital audio workstation (D.A.W.) is an electronic device or computer software application for recording, editing and producing audio files. In other words, it’s the cornerstone of your workflow for digital music. Each DAW has a unique approach to making music.

What are the Popular DAW’s?

Ask Audio surveyed 25,000 musicians and music producers what there DAW of Choice is. The results were quite surprising.

  • #1. Ableton Live 23.14%Most Popular DAW's - Ableton Logic Protools
  • #2. Logic Pro 16.95%
  • #3. Pro Tools 15.13%
  • #4. FL Studio13.63%
  • #5. Cubase 9.03%
  • #6. Studio One 3.80%
  • #7. Reason 3.46%
  • #8. GarageBand 2.49%
  • #9. Sonar 1.99%
  • #10. Digital Performer 0.92%
  • #11. Bitwig Studio 0.77%
  • Other 8.70%


I find this survey to really help me understand where my focus should be as an educator.  I want to make sure my classes stay relevant. Not just for today, but for the future.  The biggest thing this graph by Ask Audio helps me see, is the decline in Pro Tools Popularity. It used to be the center stone of music studios. All the classes in college taught it, and it was an industry standard. Today, that is begining to change. We are seeing Logic and Ableton Live gaining a lot of popularity. That does not mean that Pro Tools doesn’t have its application, or is going away. It just tells us that it’s not the majority leader in modern DAW’s.

Popularity versus Education

It’s also important to keep in mind that just because it’s popular does not mean it’s the best thing to teach. Each program has its own advantages and disadvantages in the classroom environment. I have used most of the major front runners and have seen them in an educational environment. Out of the list I think Ableton Live, Protools, Logic, and Garage Band are fantastic programs to teach in school.

Here is a rundown of my top DAW’s of choice and what I find they are best suited for in the classroom.

Garage Band – Garage Band is by far the easiest program of this list to pick up. I find this program is perfectly suited for students of a younger age. It is also a fairly intuitive program. The only issue with Garage band is the limited feature set. If you, or your students, want to get more into mixing, recording, performing, or multi-tracking than this program might not work out for you. It is also important to mention this is free with any Mac and is a Mac only program. This can make for a very good beginners class or used in a school with a low budget.

Ableton Live – Ableton live is a versatile DAW that is gaining a lot of popularity. The reason this program works so well in the classroom is its versatility. You can use the program for both live performances, as well as music production.  I find it a great program to show off music theory, MIDI editing, DJing, and Performance. This program is perfect for teenagers to professional musicians and is perfectly placed for music education.

Protools – Protools is still a leading DAW for recording. It is a powerhouse for multi-track recording. Perfectly developed to record live bands or orchestras. This program has a great place in Colleges or High Schools that have a strong labor recording studio as a part of their program.  You cannot use this program for live performance. It also has a steep learning curve. Because of this I think it is best suited for advance users of students interested in being a recording engineer.

Logic – Logic has  a long history of being an amazing DAW for music production. It is reasonably priced, and has advanced feature sets.  This program does not allow you to do a live performance, looping, or DJing though. It is however any easy thing to pick up for recording audio, editing, and writing original music.

Comparison Chart:



There really is no “right” program, or one size fits all. Each program has its own advantages and disadvantages.  That being said I am sure there are tons of opinions on this subject. I would love to hear from other treachers. What do you teach? Why do you teach that program?  What are the advantages or disadvantages of the program? Please comment below and join the discussion.


By | 2017-01-24T17:06:00+00:00 November 26th, 2015|Music Education, Music Technology|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Mike Klinger 12/04/2015 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Ask Video’s survey was from 25,000 musicians an producers. It would have been nice, as this is about music education, to get results from students and teachers. Two different worlds here. Interesting views and rally’s however….good to know.

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