And they all shine on

Bus with music equipment in every nook, cranny shows high school students the industry’s ropes.

February 06, 2008|By Michael Alexander

Students crammed into the John Lennon Educational Bus as its crew of three showed them mixers, microphones, video cameras and the tiny bunk beds squished into a full recording studio on wheels.

But they knew some of this stuff already, as some tinkered nearby in a classroom nearly as crammed with gear — walls of guitars linked to digital recording equipment, along with computers filled with recording and mixing programs.

That classroom is part of a cutting-edge program in Huntington Beach High School’s Academy for the Performing Arts. The program’s director, teacher Jamie Knight, said he got the bus to come after a chat with sponsors Apple and Roland U.S. He called the bus arrival a way of celebrating what the kids are doing.


As high school junior Johnny Wilson looked on last week, sound engineer Jacob Voelzke mixed a recording by student band Smokestack, set to become a music video in a few more hours. The pair talked equipment and microphones, and Voelzke gave aspiring producer Wilson some advice about the music industry.

“It’s a lot of work right now,” Voelzke said. “Anyone can do this with this gear. So if you want jobs — legit stuff — you really got to fight and put yourself out there.”

Meanwhile bus producer and engineer Tyler Winick showed students the full-scale recording studio crammed into the back half of the bus, with bunks right in among the equipment.

He called it a perfect match with what was going on at the school.

“We’re trying to bring music education back into the schools,” he said. “If they do have a music program they tend to run traditional.”

That’s also the message of the Commercial Recording Arts program Knight runs.

Rather than just playing music, teens work on mixing, podcasting, even writing jingles and making cover art for their music, Knight said.

One of these days, he hopes to see a merger with the video department, not only to pool resources but also to give students yet another leg up into multimedia production.

“What APA wanted to do was to reach the kids who don’t feel reached by a traditional music program,” he said.

“They do a lot of real world projects. It’s a combination of music education and technology education.”

That music education runs old-school, with a heavy emphasis on classics of rock from the ’60s and ’70s.

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