Students end music/technology camp on a high note - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Students end music/technology camp on a high note

July 10th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Students end music/technology camp on a high note


Managing Editor

Many campuses are quiet over summer break, but the sounds of violins, cellos and other stringed instruments bounced off the walls of a performing arts center recently at Casteel High School.

Students on a stage wearing shorts and other summer clothes focused on sheets of music in front of them as they played in an orchestra last month at the Queen Creek campus, part of the Chandler Unified School District.

They were among the approximately 160 students participating in the Chandler Academy of Performing Arts and Technology’s Summer 2018 Music and Technology Camp.

Kids entering grades 6-12 who have played a band or orchestra instrument for at least a year were eligible to take part in the two-week camp.

Besides practicing in orchestras and bands and then performing in a concert, the students learned how to compose music and got a taste of audio engineering.

For the first time, CAPAT teamed up with the Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences to show students how to record audio.

The Phoenix Youth Symphony also lent a musical hand, sending musicians to perform and interact with the Chandler students.

“CRAS graciously offered our students an invaluable opportunity to work with some of the best award-winning professionals in the recording and sound industries,” said Paula Jones, academy co-coordinator and orchestra director.

“Not only is CRAS currently providing outstanding industry leaders, by helping students they are also investing in the future,” she said.

Jones also is director of orchestras at Casteel.

Curt Landon, her co-coordinator and a technology teacher at the camp and at Auxier Elementary School during the school year, echoed Jones’ enthusiasm. He previously had worked as a school band director.

“We are excited to partner with these amazing organizations to integrate fantastic youth musicians and professional audio production artists to work with our students on some awesome new projects,” Landon said.

About 400 people in the audience watched the CAPAT students perform in Casteel’s modern performing arts center.

Several students in a mobile unit designed to transmit live TV listened intently and smiled often as Robert Brock, director of education for CRAS, demonstrated how he and his colleagues capture audio at Diamondbacks games and other events.

Brock talked about how microphones are set up to capture the sound of a “bat crack,” as well as announcers talking about the action and crowds cheering.

Brock said a well-known phrase is “if you can see it, I wanna hear it.”

“The audio engineer has to be sure all camera operators can hear the director’s voice,” he said. “Communication’s super-duper important.”

Brock showed the students a fader that controls the volume and a screen revealing multiple areas of the stadium where a Diamondbacks game was being played.

Achieving the right balance of audio from different sources – the announcer, the crowd, the bat, a player sliding into a base – is important, he said.

“You can think of it just like mixing cake batter,” Brock said. “If I put too much or too little, it doesn’t sound right.”

The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences has campuses in Gilbert and Tempe, helping students prepare for future careers in the recording industry and similar professions.

Grace Bayer, 11, who will be in sixth grade in the fall, answered many of Brock’s questions and liked the presentation.

“It was pretty cool how all the TV can go into all this action behind the scenes,” Grace said.

A violinist, she said she likes music and wanted to “learn new music” at camp, too.

Students were divided into bands and orchestras for grades 8-12 and 6-7. Band, orchestra and general music teachers in the Chandler district taught students, as did Jones and Landon.

Khaymin Westbrook, 14, of Chandler, who will be a freshman at Chandler High School in the fall, got excited talking about everything he did at the summer music camp.

He has been playing viola since fifth grade and said he loved “the amount of opportunities they give us to show our individuality and composing pieces.”

“It’s a brand-new experience for me,” Khaymin said. “We’re pushing ourselves to be our best.”

He added that he and other students have composed mostly classical music and that a teacher played rhythms that students had to figure what song they came from.

Julia Bziukiewicz, who will be a freshman at Casteel, plays violin and said she liked staying busy over summer break.

“I wanna become more passionate and reach a higher level skill,” she said. “It’s been fun to create our own music. It’s more fun to be here and hang out with friends every single day.”

Aramis Reyes, who will be in ninth grade at Casteel and plays the cello, called the camp “very different from anything I’ve ever experienced.”

“We come here and we play new music and it’s really fun,” Aramis said. “I’ve never been given the opportunity to compose music (before). I can put my feelings and emotions into the music.”

Eli Rahamim, 15, an incoming junior at Hamilton High who plays the bass, enjoyed the social and musical aspects of the camp. He said usually bass parts in orchestra tend to be boring, but at the camp he had a chance to play more interesting music.

“It’s really cool because you get to play with all different kinds of people,” Eli said. “Music is definitely a passion of mine.”

Holden McCullar, 12, who will be in eighth grade at Casteel and plays bass, liked that he and his peers got to play “really cool songs.”

“I also love the technology part,” Holden said. “It’s really fun; we did our own whole page music. We did a lot of music composing and musicality.”

CAPAT is one of the Chandler Unified School District’s community education programs. The camp began about 15 years ago and a few years ago, Jones and Landon added the technology component.

“That’s one of the most competitive, most relevant things kids deal with in today’s society,” Jones said. “Students learn about copyright, storyboarding, shooting video and stills, editing and audio capture and production.

“In addition, students learn about how technology can enhance their practicing and performance as well as knowledge of music theory and composition.”

The students used web-based music software and had a chance to experience musically and “learn by trial and error, as well,” Jones added.

Kirt Hamm, CRAS administrator, said the presence of the conservatory on Valley high schools is beneficial.

“Educators are seeing firsthand that there is an immense opportunity for their students that have a passion for the arts,” he said. “To that end, CAPAT is a terrific program for high schoolers and we are proud to be a part of it.”

CRAS also provides an 11-month program aimed at allowing all students a chance to learn and train in all of the conservatory’s studios, which have the same equipment used in studios and remote broadcast centers.

Information on CAPAT: To learn more about CRAS: