By: Harvey Kaplan
The Bronx High School of Business, in collaboration with the Center for Educational Innovation and the Sports and Arts in Schools Foundation, are offering students an exciting and innovative activity as a part of their Renewal Hour program.
Students are being given the opportunity to learn all about the music industry from production, engineering, public relations, performing and writing. Principal Bajana Vega commented when asked about the program “The music production program has allowed students to engage in a way with instruction that is unique and allows them to demonstrate their creativity in multiple ways. It transforms them in a way that allows us to see their passion and many talents.”
Jasimen Washington, the SASF site director remarked that “Not everyone can be a performer but the roles played by individuals behind the scenes are equally important. It is a creative way to foster a deeper understanding of real word applications of the STEM curriculum.”
All this takes place under the aegis of SASF’s Emmanuel Tapia, a noted music producer, singer/songwriter, and DJ. Emmanuel who refers to his students as artists brings a unique perspective to his work at the school having been involved in the music business for over 15 years. His curriculum and lessons reflect the school’s overall philosophy of immersing its students in college readiness and career awareness. When asked about his goal for the program he stated: “My main goal is to draw awareness to all the incredible possibilities music can create and to empower our youth through passion, resources and most important genuine connections made possible via music.”
The student/artists are fortunate to have full access to the school’s computer lab and use state of the art music software, i.e., Garage Band, to produce their own beats, tracks and songs. The student/artists also learn about the multi-faceted music industry and the wide range of career opportunities that are available. In a post-Grammy Awards class, the student/artists were given the opportunity to critique the musical performances using the music terminology they learned in class and made suggestions as to how what they saw could be improved.
Student/artists are also given every chance to perform their work in class and receive positive feedback from the instructor and their peers. Student/artists are encouraged to expand their creativity and are given the opportunity to continue their work during the afterschool program.
Student/artists were given the liberty to express their thoughts about the program and what it means to them and responded with:
“What I learned from being in this class is how to engineer music.”
“I’ve learned how to mix my tracks properly.”
“I selected this activity because I love being around music. I grew up in Jamaica around a family of DJ’s and now I am a DJ myself.”
“My favorite part of the class is just sharing out and seeing how everyone has improved their skills”
During the Spring holiday, student/artists will be afforded the opportunity to visit a recording studio in New York City where they will experience first-hand the inner workings of this facet of the music business. Student/artists will have actual studio time and will be able to record their own music.
Anthony Orzo, The Center for Educational Innovation’s 21st Century Community Learning Center’s Executive Director said the following when asked to reflect on the program “It’s amazing to see the hidden skills and talents our students possess. Mr. Tapia is a master at encouraging his students to step out of their comfort zone and to take chances in their performing.” He also said, “with great staff, great things happen.”