If you read my last post, I have an incredibly talented student whom I’m calling Mick, since he’s got the moves. Well, things just exploded today in class (in a good way), and I’m really excited to share!
Mick came to class today and started working on Garageband. About 20 minutes into class, I opened up my daily Zoom call with my 4th block kids. Often, this class has a great turn-out, compared to my other classes, but today, I only had one kid sign onto the call.
Fortuitous, as you’ll see.
This kid… we’ll call her Christina (continuing with the Maroon 5 joke). Christina is an extraordinarily talented and driven young lady and was one of the inspirations for this whole recording studio thing. She’s been writing her own music since she was in middle school. She used Garageband on her iPhone and started using BandLab and then finally FL Studios before she hit 8th grade.
That year, she actually came into the band room during lunch one day and demanded I give her a lesson in advanced music theory. She explained that she felt her writing was getting stale and was struggling with writer’s block. Within a couple days she’d moved from understanding scales and triads to speaking intelligently about subbing supertonic seven chords for subdominants and adding 9s for color. Crazy, this kid.
Anyway, our Zoom meetings typically follow a show-and-tell format. The kids share their progress with each other, highlighting whatever project they worked on since the previous Zoom. It’s a great way for all of us to stay motivated as well as develop a sense of communal accountability. I look forward to this particular Zoom every day.
Since Christina was by herself, we ended up going through several of her projects. One was a light EDM track and the rest were lo-fi Hip hop tracks. Her methodology is to lay down all the music first and then record the lyrics on top afterward.
While I discussed several technical items with her (ie, giving some of her higher frequency stuff some shape by automating the mod wheel on her MIDI controller, doubling her sawtooth baseline since it lost a lot of tone on the lower notes, etc.), the Zoom call kind of became a one-on-one conversation between us. The other kids in the physical class eventually turned back to their own work.
All but one.
Mick, who’d put down his headphones, was staring at Christina’s shared screen which showcased her DAW (digital audio workstation) and the tracks we were discussing. After a while, I happened to glance over and noticed he was just sitting there, his eyebrows raised and his mouth open (well, I think his mouth was open… we all had masks on, soooo…).
We made eye contact.
“Did she make those beats? Did she write that?”
“Well, yeah, that’s what her project for this semester is. She’s working on finishing an EP by the end of December.”
“Her music is awesome!”
I laughed and Christina asked what was going on; I said, “You have a fan! Mick likes your music. He’s actually a rapper.”
“WHAT?!?! He’s a rapper!??!”
Now Mick laughed. He was giddy!
“Yeah, I rap! I been sittin’ here thinkin’ up all kinds of lyrics and ideas are just flowin’ and… I love your music!”
Meanwhile, Christina was talking at the same time!
“Yo! I’ve been looking for someone who can rap! I have a whole album of tracks done and ready to go because the last guy I had lined up bailed on me and…!”
(You can probably see where this is going!)
At this point, I just handed my Chromebook over to Mick and they started excitedly exchanging Snapchat and Instagram accounts so they could start collaborating.
Beautiful, isn’t it?!
But then, I had an idea.
Since my student teacher was hanging out with the kids as they worked, I told him I was going to step out for a moment. I went outside and called one of my other Contemporary Music kids. We’ll call him Adam (continuing the 2011 Maroon 5 vibe). He’s the savvy, business/marketing-minded kid who wants to go into marketing when he “grows up.”
(He also planning to run for President in 2040, but that’s another story entirely… you’d love this kid.)
He picked up on the fourth ring.
“Hey, man. How’s skipping my Zoom class going?”
“Pretty fantastic, what’s up?”
“Well, I’ve got an idea for you. Would you be interested in marketing and managing an album release for two other kids in the class? You can count it as your semester project.”
“Sure, what are they doing?”
We talked a little bit about what Mick and Christina were doing, what the timeline might look like, and some things for him to research including contracts, platform options, etc. We discussed Soundcloud vs. Spotify and how Christina and Mick could leverage their social media accounts to help get the word out.
I went back in and let Mick know that he and Christina could use Adam as their manager and publicist so they could focus on their music, if they were interested. He got really excited and we talked about how to make this thing work.
At the end of class, Mick told me that I should start a Snapchat or Instagram account to showcase what’s going on with this class…
…and that he’d even share it!
I can’t stop smiling about all this.
I’ll keep you guys posted. 🙂