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Things to Cherish: How to Convert an Invaluable Cassette Tape to a CD or Mp3

Updated on June 24, 2012
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Recently, I came across a cassette tape of a recording I had done with students in 1973. I listened to it and decided I wanted to preserve it as a CD because the tape was beginning to deteriorate. I found it would be necessary to buy an adapter cable in order to do an easy transfer of cassette music to my laptop.




Before, I get into the process of how to convert analog tapes into CD’s and MP3’s, permit me to digress a little to explain why this task was so important to me.



In 1971, after sub teaching for four years and working nights as a musician, I decided to become a permanent teacher. I had gotten tired of never being financially secure, unless I worked two jobs. When I started teaching full time, it was a positive change to the sense of the instability I had known during my nights working various venues as a musician and sub teaching days. However, I missed my life as a musician, so in order to fill that empty feeling, I started utilizing my skills with the guitar to have enjoyable moments of downtime with the kids. This created a bond between the students and me, and it also filled the void I felt.



Early childhood education was the big push at the time, and my principal was campaigning for Wilson Riles to be superintendent of the California School System. She knew of my music background and asked me if I could write some Sesame Street type of music for a slide presentation on Early Childhood Education. Therefore, after watching the slides, which she had accumulated from photos of students at our school, I wrote the words and music for two songs I felt would be appropriate for her presentation.



We planned to record the songs in a studio, so I taught the class to sing the songs. It would have been too bureaucratically complex to use the whole class for the recording, so, I decided to pick out a group of children to perform the vocals. The final cut, after the auditions, was a group of seven students.



I enlisted a close friend of mine to write the arrangements and put together a group of musicians to record the musical background tracks, separately in the studio.



The next part was very exciting for the seven that were to perform the song. We went to the same recording studio, where the students wore headphones while overdubbing their voices to the sound tracks. Everything went according to plan and the children did a great job. We ended up with a nice recording, and my principal did a successful presentation to the school board and some other committees.



From Analog to Digital

My task was to transfer the music from a second-generation cassette tape to my laptop, in order to digitize the music in an attempt to salvage the songs. In order to complete this task, it was necessary to order a cable with a USB connector on one end and a 3.5mm stereo plug on the other end. In addition, I needed a software program to edit and clean up the music during the transfer. I downloaded the free beta edition of Audacity for the clean-up job. It is an excellent program, which will handle the transition of music from analog to digital. You need some knowledge of the process of recording music or else you are facing a longer learning curve. A manual downloads with the program, so I suggest you familiarize yourself with it, before attempting a transfer.



Four Easy Steps

1. Download Audacity (Familiarize yourself with the Audacity manual)



2. USB to 3.5 stereo plug cable. (First connect the stereo plug to the cassette player and then the USB to your laptop)



3. Audacity will allow you to select the source (in this case a cassette player).



4. Push play and transfer the music to your laptop.


Once you've transferred the music, the Audacity menu gives you a choice of tasks that you can do with just a click, in order to clean up the music.




The Final Product

The following music track is one the two songs I wrote and produced for the Early Childhood slide production. This song with its simple but staightforward lyrics pretty well demonstrates my philosophy in the affective domain of the learning process for children. Unfortunately, the original presentation disappeared years ago, so I put together something I felt was appropriate to my intent for the song, which is the world from a child’s perspective. I hope you will enjoy the video, and. If you would like to watch this in full screen Hd, you can go to my YouTube channel.

www.youtube.com/user/DFiduccia









Learning to Live



Barry Rillera, a multitalented musician, who backed the Righteous Brothers and Bill Medley’s solo career for many years, arranged and produced the background music track.He played a twelve-string electric guitar on Learning to Live. Barry is still an active working musician and one of the best blues players I know. You can find his CD's on Amazon.com



© 2012 Don Fiduccia

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    • hoteltravel profile image

      hoteltravel 5 years ago from Thailand

      I had been searching for something like this for the last couple of years. It all began when my mom handed over the priceless tapes my dad had recorded way back when we were kids. It has songs and conversations by the entire family. She had been preserving these tapes for so long with so much care . She wants this converted into digital format. I asked many techie friends, but got only vague replies. This is great news. I will try this out, even if it is not very easy. Thanks for sharing. Voted up and useful.

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Hello Hoteltravel,

      I hope this works out for you. As an added protection, push in the tabs on the narrow top end of the cassette. This will protect you from an accidental erasure in case you hit Record instead of Play on the cassette player.

      Good luck,

      DF

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      Oh, great hub topic that will help so many of us who have cherished tapes needing conversion. Voted up!

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks for the vote teaches1234. I hope that the video on children can be of some use to you, also.

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      Hey D. I saw an advertisement in a magazine for a cassette converter. It held one tape, and had the USB connection with it. You just plug it into your computer and it works good. Only thing, I never figured out how to get the sound right. I could never be an engineer. It made me nervous.

      Love the happy song you wrote. The recording reminded me of the Sesame Street kids. Now you have it saved. Good. AD

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks Ann,

      Try using Audacity with the music.

      DF

    • anndavis25 profile image

      anndavis25 5 years ago from Clearwater, Fl.

      DF, I had a video of a recording session in '79. The video recorders were the first on the market. 8mm. There was no sound back then. I found the old 45 that we actually recorded, and added it. It's not in sinc, but I enjoyed putting the two together. I will try Audacity next. Hope this comes through...my husband recorded this at Allied Studios in Memphis. Our backup group.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2yX53q4M4sI

    • Rhoda Talisaysay profile image

      Rhoda Talisaysay 5 years ago from Philippines

      What a great hub. I have lost all the treasures " old voices" in cassette tapes that I missed so much. Love your very own song and I have a few compositions too but shelved yet though my daughters sometimes would sing them. Cheers to your success!!

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Rhoda,

      Thank you for visiting and double thanks for the comment on my music.

      DF

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 5 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I have some priceless cassettes needing to be transfered to CD. Needless to say, I'm most grateful to you for this information. Kind of you, DF to share this information. Voted up and useful!

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      You're welcome and thank you for the follow. Thanks again for the tips hub on singing. I still sing, so your tips will be useful.

      DF

    • justmesuzanne profile image

      justmesuzanne 5 years ago from Texas

      Clear instructions, charming story and lovely video! Who could ask for anything more? Voted up and awesome! :)

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      Thanks again. I'm glad you liked this.

      DF

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

      I have a pile of old cassettes and did not know how I can save data in these tapes.

      Thanks for sharing the valuable information.

    • maheshpatwal profile image

      maheshpatwal 5 years ago from MUMBAI

      DF. I must say yours is a very nice hub which explains in details how to convert old cassettes into digital form. I have audacity in my PC but never knew it could be used for conversion of old cassettes into digital form. Will try to convert some old tapes. Thanks for sharing the information with us. Voted up.

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      mahesh— thanks for stopping by and for the vote. I appreciate it..

      DF

    • collegedad profile image

      collegedad 5 years ago from The Upper Peninsula

      Very useful! My wife has a box of oldies-but-goodies that need to be converted.

    • DFiduccia profile image
      Author

      DFiduccia 5 years ago from Las Vegas

      collegedad—Thanks for reading.

      DF

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