Music & Tech ‘Come Together’ on Lennon Bus
By Gizzelle Akin @gizzellew
From the invention of the transistor in 1947, to digital sampling technologies in the 1980s, to Lady Gaga’s collaboration with Intel at the 2016 Grammy Awards, Technology and Music have traveled hand in hand to demonstrate and enhance creative abilities.
Last week, Structured was able to strengthen this relationship even further by partnering with Juniper Networks and Securematics to bring The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus to a number of schools in our local area.
The Lennon Bus is a state of the art mobile audio and video recording and production facility. Staffed by on-board recording engineers, students can learn how to write, record, and produce original songs– all in one day! It is highly adaptable and can be customized for the needs, levels of experience, and interests of the school and surrounding community.
The most impressive example of this we got to experience was Helensview High School, our first Oregon stop of the year. Helensview is an alternative high school for students who don’t fit into the regular public school system. There is a significant homeless student population, close to 95% of the students are on free/reduced lunches, and many of the students are already supporting themselves/their families.
Though the school offers some music instruction, the students of Helensview have real struggles to deal with and things like investing in musical instruments are not typically within reach.
One student in particular, a 16-year-old, was extremely hesitant to participate in the songwriting process with the other students, mentioning that it wasn’t her style. The bus staff spoke with her and discovered she had an incredible singing voice which she was nervous to use. She spoke about the limited opportunity she has had to explore her talent and that when she has sang it has always been with a group, never alone. Over the course of the day and getting hands-on with the equipment, she gained the confidence to write a rap verse, a vocal hook, and steal the show with her talent.
In speaking with the team on the bus, they find undiscovered talents that the students themselves don’t even know about on a regular basis. The recordings from the day on The Lennon Bus even have been used for college scholarship applications and demos for recording contracts. This aligns perfectly with John Lennon’s vision of changing the world through music.
By utilizing music technology, we were able to bring these high schoolers the ability to express their creativity in a way that was previously unavailable to them. These students with no instrumental expertise were able to write/record/and produce a song in less than a full work day.
Being able to enable this group of students to create a work of musical art from nothing, and watch their eyes light up during playback, has been one of the most rewarding opportunities in which I’ve had the honor to participate.