This has been an extremely busy and eventful summer. It seems that each spring and summer I am involved in a major project. After successfully completing a run at Mattie Kelly Arts Center where I was Music Director for the Stage show ” Generations: A collection of Black American Music” I took one week off after the show, and then proceeded to begin building a new home and relocating to Crestview Florida. All the while doing this I did a four week Summer Camp at Northwest Florida State College called “Kids on Campus” where I made karaoke style CD’s of children between the ages of 9 and 13. Right around this time I also took on a new position as Worship Minister/Leader/Musician at Destin First Baptist Church.
My class was called “The Next Great Idol” in similar fashion of the Network TV show “American Idol”. But my class was not a competition at all. Instead, the class was designed to give the children a glimpse into what it takes to produce and record a CD as an artist. The children’s CD’s included original artwork and pictures that the children choose and or created themselves. I allowed each child to make a recording of their favorite song, and then they could also include the additional songs that their fellow classmates sang and recorded if they choose too. The end result would be their own CD with them singing their song and with their classmates songs on the CD also. Oh yes, and we also choose one song as a class song. The class song was a song that all the kids voted on and selected and that they sang and recorded together. It was a hoot.
The sessions were long and tedious , but I thoroughly enjoyed the talent and enthusiasm of the kids. I taught 4 one hour sessions during the first 2 week camp. Then I had 2 weeks off. After that there was another Kids on Campus 2 week session where I taught a whole new set of kids during 5 one hour sessions for 2 weeks, for a total of 4 weeks altogether. Every kid had the opportunity to do an initial run through of their song where I acted as an in studio producer and gave them helpful suggestions as to how to interpret and make the song better. Many of the kids had never before sang into a microphone, which can be a bit intimidating at first. One little girl insisted that everyone leave the room when she recorded her song as she was very shy. All of the kids gladly complied, as I had initially insisted that we all support and encourage each other. I really had a sweet, and eager bunch of children to work with. This was important because everyone sang and performed in front of everyone else. This too can be quite intimidating. But by the end of the 2 week sessions most of the kids had all made new friends and said that that they couldn’t wait until next year. Many of them told me that my class was their favorite.
I brought equipment from my home studio including a computer, microphone, 32′ computer monitor and professional DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) software. My DAW of choice is Cakewalk Sonar 10.0 of which I’ve been a fan of for many many years. I was even able to show the children at a very elementary level how to mix a song and how to add effects. Sometimes we would clown around and I would play the kids song in reverse. This usually brought howls of laughter from everyone. The primary objective was to have fun, but I did intersperse a bit of acoustic science to the children here and there. I showed them how once a sound is digitized (recorded to computer) ,then that sound can be totally manipulated. (Hence why so many artist that can’t really sing sound so good). However, some of the children could really sing and I encouraged them all to join their school or church choirs if they were really serious about music. Time did not allow me to go into extensive detail and instruction in singing, but I did manage to share some important information about what it takes to be an entertainer and how important integrity, character, and work ethic are to “make it” in the entertainment field. We had online access so I shared a few videos of current performers with them and helped to explain that what you see on stage is the glitz and glamour but that it takes a lot of hard word to make it as an artist.
All in all, I believe that a good time was had by all involved. No real tragedies except perhaps for the bit of shock that some of the children experience when they heard their voices recorded and played back with high end professional equipment for the first time. Oh yes, and did I mention I took on the role of Minister of Music at Destin 1st Baptist Church and that during the entire time I was teaching about 30 Private students. : ) Talk with you next Time.
If you ever need piano lessons in the Crestview, FL area just contact me and we will arrange a time.