When I first started teaching music at Scotts Valley High I saw a lot of students that weren’t involved in Band or Choir. You know who they are….the rockers, the rappers and the songwriters!! Although some of them were in the performing ensembles, many were not. They were on their computers composing through GarageBand, Reason, Logic, and other DAWs. They were carrying their guitars on their backs through campus and sitting on the grass at lunch playing. I knew I had to give them what I never had in school….an education in the music industry! I proposed this idea to the GRAMMY Foundation back in 2011 and they awarded us a GRAMMY for music education and a $5500 grant. That helped me to purchase Logic, microphones, keyboards and a drum. Yay! Good start!
Next, I worked with our local business, Universal Audio (I know! We’re so lucky they’re in our backyard!!) and they came and built us a studio at the high school with ALL their software. It is so amazing! Then our local Rotary Club purchased us a studio computer. Studio was now set to go! One problem…the school district didn’t have the money to pay me to teach the class.
Soooo…being Taurus I don’t accept “No” for an answer (I’m very stubborn!) I found out that the county office of education had a separate funding program for “vocational/career” type classes. Because of my years of working in the industry I was eligible to apply for a CTE (Career Tech Education) credential, in addition to the California Music Credential I already had. This CTE credential allowed me to teach a class through their program. However, problem number two….they don’t have a Recording Arts class in their program and there’s none in the state! Of course that didn’t stop me, I compiled a list of local jobs in the audio and recording industry (helps living near the Silicon Valley!) and I proposed a coursework plan to teach the class. They approved it and the next year we launched the class! Whew!!
I’m just finishing up my second year and I can honestly say that it was worth every effort to launch this class. I tripled the number of students enrolled in music classes at our high school. Every year the students put out their own CD of original songs, recorded and mixed by themselves! As I always say….”Don’t you wish we had this when we were in school???”
Thank you to the GRAMMY Foundation for recognizing our efforts to be innovative in music education and bringing our program into the 21st Century. Our GRAMMY from 2011 sits in the front office and is the first thing anyone sees when they walk in. We are honored to be among 30 schools chosen from across the nation as a semi-finalist for this year’s award.
I encourage anyone that is in the music industry to get involved in your local schools and bring your talent and expertise to these students. Music teachers are very overworked and are most likely doing the job of 2 teachers. They can always use help, whether it’s money or instruction I would be very surprised if they turned you down. Investing in our youth is worth every second. You will walk away feeling that it is YOU that got the gift. I know that’s how I feel at the end of every school day.