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GRAMMY Camp - Basic Training At Austin's McCallum High School
On January 30th, The Recording Academy Texas Chapter hosted the GRAMMY Camp—Basic Training for over 150 enthusiastic fine arts students at McCallum High School. The event began with students attending a panel, “The Biz,” followed by workshops including Live Recording, Music in TV & Film, Thte Art Of Songwriting, Artist Development, and Music Performance & Improvisation. Following the workshops, students and industry professionals gathered in a smaller setting to have “Power Lunches”. Students were broken into several groups to explore the workshops of their choosing and discuss the realities of the music business and careers in the industry.
To start the day off, students filled an auditorium to watch “The Biz” panel, which consisted of several music industry experts including Founder of Rainmaker Artists, Paul Nugent; “The Voice” finalist and artist, Nakia; entertainment attorney, Ricky Anderson; Emmy-nominated songwriter Barry Coffing; and partner at Giant Noise public relations agency, Elaine Garza. The panel dished out tons of tips on how to get started in the industry, telling the students which cities are the best to kick-start their career and the first step to getting in the door is helping those that are already in the business, such as interning at companies. Nakia emphasized how important it is for an artist to take as many gigs as possible in order to get yourself and your band recognized in your local music scene. At the end of the panel, students were able to approach the mic and ask their own specifics questions to the panelists.
Following the panel, students participated in various workshops covering a wide-array of music industry fields. The Art of Songwriting panel, which was led by Barry Coffing and singer/songwriter Sara Hickman, was offered to students who were interested in the songwriting profession. Students got to brainstorm lyric ideas as well as show off their own original songs. Many students brought guitars with them to the workshop to perform their songs for Barry and Sara, who afterwards gave constructive criticism. The room was full of laughter as Barry used an American Idol reference and called Sara the “Simon” of the room for her lyric critiques. She shot back, “Well, at least I’m not Paula!”
Other workshops such as Live Recording and Music Performance & Improvisation gave students a chance to gain hands-on experience with recording equipment. The Live Recording workshop was led by the owner of Reelsound Recording, Malcolm Harper. Students were led into the studio located in Malcolm's huge semi-truck to see how a recording console works. As he recorded a student violin quartet playing, he explained how the faders, microphone pre-amps, and patches were all attended to in order to ensure a good level balance, and demonstrated the use of effects such as reverb to give the room a livelier feel.
The Artist Development workshop gave students a feel for the business side of the music industry, as they got tips from panelists who have plenty of experience with it. The panelists in this workshop included singer/songwriter Nakia, entertainment attorney Ricky Anderson, artist manager and founder of Rainmaker Artists Paul Nugent, and Giant Noise publicist Elaine Garza. Students had plenty of questions to ask, including when they should start building their teams of managers and publicists. More than half of the students in the workshop said they perform or are in bands. The workshop discussed ideal performance venues and how to market themselves successfully.
Students in the Music in TV & Film workshop got an inside look to the work flow of composer/producer Carl Thiel, who has worked on films such as Kill Bill 2, Spy Kids and Miss Congeniality. Thiel brought in clips of his past movie scores to show students how much of an effect music has on screen and how he tweaks and changes clips throughout the editing process. He discussed his process by presenting a scene from the movie Spy Kids 2 without any sound effects or music, then the first-draft score, and the final version to show the major impact sound and music has on a film. At the end of the workshop, students got to participate in a question and answer session with Thiel.
After the workshops, students had the opportunity to engage in candid conversations with panelists and workshop leaders about careers in the music industry. In addition to the leaders and panelists, other industry professionals came in to participate as well—Heather Wagner Reed, publicist and president of Juice Consulting; Caroline Burruss, Director of Business Development for ACL-Live; Theresa Jenkins, Senior Executive Director of Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy; and Tim Palmer, top producer and engineer. In this smaller setting, students were allowed to have more intimate discussions about the Power Lunch leader’s career path.
Following lunch, all the students and panelists gathered into the auditorium for a special treat from the students who participated in the Music Performance and Improvisation workshop. During their workshop earlier in the day, these students got to work with Latin GRAMMY-nominated musician/composer Rodney Alejandro, acclaimed drummer Ramy Antoun, trombone player Michael Mordecai, DJ Manny and the Grooveline Horns interactively on stage. The leaders discussed performance technique and strategy as well as gave students the opportunity to learn for themselves by jamming with their own instruments and voices to two different songs: “P.Y.T (Pretty Young Thing),” by Michael Jackson and “What’s Going On,” by Marvin Gaye.
When the rest of the students filed into the auditorium at the end of the day, the workshop participants got to show off what they learned that day by performing with the workshop leaders for their peers. Overall, both the students and industry professionals walked away from the day with an invaluable learning experience.
Check out photos of GRAMMY Camp - Basic Training here.