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Knoch High School Students Use Tech To Make Music

Mike Lawson • News • October 22, 2015

Knoch HSMaking music has evolved. Musicians for centuries played with rhythms and melodies and scribbled on paper. Today, virtually anyone can formulate a song track with multiple instruments on a computer.

Ten Knoch High School students are using iPad minis equipped with music production apps like Garage Band, Drum Machine, and Launch Pad to mix a rhythm track, a melody track, and a sound effects track. The semester-long music production course is new this year and designed to integrate music and technology. The elective is open to any student. The ability to read music or play an instrument isn’t needed.

Junior Sharyn Sefton, 16, said she signed up for the course to get exposure to a different aspect of music. “I’m just really into music; I always have been,” she said. She used to play the piano, trombone, and bass clarinet. “I like mixing and recording because I don’t play too much anymore. So being able to make music and be around it, I think, is fun and interesting.”

Music teacher Brent Russell was awarded a nearly $3,000 grant from the Knoch Knights Legacies Foundation to buy iPad minis. The nonprofit raises money to support academic and extracurricular activities in the South Butler School District. “More than anything, (I hope the students get) an appreciation for music and being able to show their creativity, have a sense of accomplishment and have fun,” he said.

The apps allow students to pick different beats, play instruments using the touch screen, and then build a song by layering sections in editing software.

Senior Danielle Peiffer, 18, who plays clarinet in the concert band, said she wants to understand how music is made and try her hand at making her own. “When I graduate, I want to (major) in music and possibly become a music therapist, go into music production or possibly be a music teacher or instructor,” she said.

Seniors Drake Zappa and Garrett Trettel, both 17, said they intend to spend the semester perfecting their music track, then add vocals to it using a similar computer program at home. “I’m kind of excited about it,” Zappa said. “There’s a lot of stuff on here to do.”

Trettel said he thinks anyone could use the music production software. “This is our first go at writing our own music,” he said. “I think by the end of the semester we’re going to be pretty good.”

The course will be offered again next semester, and Russell said he hopes more students enroll.

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