OSWEGO, NY – It simply isn’t the same music program that your parents and grandparents enjoyed.
Oswego Middle School music students are still singing and playing instruments, but teacher Paula McKenney-Myers has taken the program to another dimension.
In conjunction with the SUNY Oswego “Adopt a School” program, the OMS students are experiencing a hands-on recording project.
McKenney-Myers said, “Students and faculty from the college are coming to work with my kids on various recording projects we are doing. We are using an industry standard software called ‘Pro Tools’ as the students learn about careers in music, composing, and what’s possible in music technology.”
At a kickoff celebration that brought everyone together the OMS students had a unique experience.
McKenney-Myers explained, ”We showed them what an actual recording session would look like. When they do their recording project they will understand what they have to record. I was giving them a ‘what if’ scenario – if you have all these musicians and resources, here’s what you could do them.”
In the current project all students have chosen a short story which they have to record and set to music with sound effects.
McKenney-Myers said, “Students have learned that sometimes background music might come from a piano, but also vocals, drums, guitars and other instruments.”
Explaining the current assignment, she said, “The project is called ‘Sound Story’ and each student starts out with a poem by Shel Silverstein. I have the poems marked up in the spots where sound effects should go. The students have to interpret the text, create moods and fit the moods to it. Students need to create background music according to the moods they chose using any instruments they can play and the resources available through ProTools.”
Students could also use a ‘Loops’ program where they can take samples and add to their work. However, they can also create their own sound effects using voice and instruments, search the Internet or use one of the CDs that are available.
At the conclusion of the project there will be a presentation day. When the mixing and sound mastering is completed the project will be put on a CD that will be distributed.
McKenney-Myers added, “When we are done the students will share their work with the world and email their work to the public.”
Linda Shannon’s eighth grade art classes are working in coordination with the music students to create covers for each classes CD.
They have also worked with SUNY Oswego on this project.
McKenney-Myers added, “I hope this opens their eyes to music as a possible career choice. They have seen that you can go to college and we have a great resource in town with SUNY Oswego. There are a lot of fields they can go into in relation to music even if they don’t play an instrument. Recording is a great option and I want them to know the various areas and aspects of recording. Working with professional quality software gives them a chance to take up an internship at a very young age in a recording studio to get their foot in the door.”
Reflecting on how the project came to pass the Oswego Middle School music teacher noted, “I went to the same college as Dan Wood and he is currently the head engineer at SUNY Oswego. So when I came to Oswego I discovered where he worked and thought it would be great to do a project together. Dan and I spent several months collaborating on this project. We hope to continue and expand on this in the future.”
This is just the beginning for Oswego Middle School music students as McKenney-Myers said, “The next step will be for the students to write their own songs.”
There is a select group of students who took a field trip to the recording studios at SUNY Oswego.
These students will have their compositions showcased in a CD release party to be held at SUNY Oswego at the end of January.
You may find additional information about this project and other OMS music programs at http://www.oswego.org/webpages/pmckenneymyers/adopt-a-school.cfm