Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=130443
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 3:58:07 AM CST
WASHINGTON-- Seventh-grader Fred Anderson is finally getting a chance to express himself.
And he's doing it at an after school program.
A music production program at Blow Pierce Junior Academy in northeast Washington gives students like Anderson time for creativity and collaboration.
"I get a chance to work with people that know how to (produce)" Anderson said. "I'm learning more because I see it and I can understand more. I'm seeing it instead of just talking about it."
The program began last October, with funding help from a grant inspired by No Child Left Behind. The purpose of the grant was to create community-centered programming.
Seven months later, the program is doing all that and more.
Derrick Watkins works closely with the students at Blow Pierce and other Friendship Public Charter Schools. Friendship is D.C.'s largest community of public charter schools.
Watkins can't say enough about the music program.
"(The students) are doing what they love doing and they're picking up skills that are real skills they can use in the real world," Watkins said. "They're being introduced to other careers that they didn't know existed."
With help from two experienced music producers, students learn how to record beats and vocals. Producers introduce them to the latest software to make the songs complete.
And, sometimes more important than that -- it's a chance to relax.
"Teachers put all this stuff in your mind and it's hard to keep it there," said eighth-grader TiMia Johnson. "After school, you can hang out, have fun, make songs and make dances."
Michael Barney, an instructor with the program, says music can impact the way students think.
"Music helps people think outside the box," said Barney, who's currently working with Grammy-nominated artist Raheem DeVaughn. "These kids are learning a great deal of technical skills that can help with any type of platform."