Music Journey for Kids

03/12/2009
By From the Lowell Sun

By Anthony Geehan

A large, state-of-the-art recording studio inside UMass Lowell's Durgin Hall buzzes with the excited talk of a group of seventh-grade students. The teachers get the children to settle and begin to tap out a tempo. The students begin to sing "Siyahamba," "ekukanyen" "kwenkos," a traditional South African spiritual that translates as "We are marching in the light of God."

Students one floor above the room sit at the studio and try to match up the children's singing to the music that was recorded earlier in the day. It is all part of an alliance with the UMass music education department and Bartlett Community Partnership School's Music Study Program.

It gives music-education majors at UMass Lowell a chance to work

Bartlett School seventh-grader Brent McAvoy plays the xylophone under the direction of his music teacher. in a classroom setting while showing younger Lowell students from the Bartlett School the possibilities of studying music in college.
The students first learned a song taught to them by student teachers, and then were allowed to have their song recorded at the Durgin Hall studio.

"We have a very strong partnership with UMass Lowell," says Rachel Crawford, a Bartlett teacher and one of the main coordinators of this program. "This is actually the first time anyone who wasn't a UMass Lowell student has been allowed in the recording area."

The students in Crawford's class have been working with three student teachers for four weeks.

"We got to work with the kids for about only an hour a week," says fifth-year music education major Zachary Cooper, who along with seniors Joanna Prica and Lindsay Sherman taught the children the song and assisted them in the studio. "The kids really make great leaps and bounds every time we see them."
Sound-engineering majors at the college work on the on the technical side of the children's recording. "It's been a tough project, but the kids have been well behaved and very interested in what they are doing," said Tim Brault, a graduate student and lead engineer."

Jerald Fabris, a curator at the Edison National Historic Site showed students how to record music on a wax cylinder, the original means for recording music.

The composition, Edison's Frontier, was created by UMass student Brian Corey, at the request of professor Alexander Case.

"I was influenced to do a type of old western composition to celebrate (Thomas) Edison's taking on of the technological frontier," says Corey.

"It's really cool to be in a recording studio," says Brent Meavor, 12. "I really liked hearing myself on a recording and learning a song in a new language."