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WFAE 90.7: Learning Through Audio Production

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By Sarah Delia
Posted July 23, 2015

A teacher in Charlotte is trying to keep students from slipping into the typical "brain drain" of summer. WFAE's Sarah Delia went to a classroom at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School that's engaging students in a creative and different way.

The voices you'd expect to hear in a typical classroom aren't the ones you'll find in Kamil Cooper's class. Today, it's rapper Jay-Z and producer Timbaland. Cooper plays a video of the artist and producer collaborating to a class of about eight students.

The assignments in Cooper's audio production change daily. But each time the goal is the same, to get students to express themselves through sound and to keep them occupied during the doldrums of summer.

"We don't want them to sit at home and play video games or run around in the streets, something bad can happen," says Cooper.

Cooper's class is part of the Bell program. It's a curriculum based initiative that engages students outside of normal school hours to prevent things like the "summer brain drain" while school is out of session.

Through a digital program called Soundation, the students build pieces of music by using "samples" that come with it.

Class projects range from creating beats for their favorite artists to designing what a new game might sound like. Cooper wants students to use their own feelings and experiences in what they produce.

"Personally I've learned how to channel my emotions through music and it will make me a better producer which I want to be some day as I get older," says 13-year-old Courtney Cummings.

He says there are all sorts of emotions that go into his finished products like anger and depression, but there's some joy there, too. This class has given his music a space to actually be heard.

Cooper says he's worked as a music producer in Charlotte, so he wants students to learn the business side of the music industry as well.

"I don't want teach them how to play a note if they're not going to understand how to use that to get a job with it. Everything in this class I want them to be able to apply it to working in the real world. That's what I'm trying to incorporate, real world scenarios," Cooper says.

One of next week's classes will be dedicated to learning how to read contracts an important skill to know whether you're a music produce or not.