WOODSTOCK – A blue bus sat next to Woodstock High School on Monday, and most wouldn’t have imagined a multimillion-dollar recording and production studio was hidden inside.
The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus stopped by Woodstock High School on Tuesday, and seven students – the majority Advanced Placement music theory students – had a chance to work with a team of studio engineers to write and record an original song, then produce a music video using professional-grade equipment.
“All the stuff that comes out of here is high-level and professional quality,” said Steven Meloney, an onboard engineer. “That’s the biggest value. All the equipment they are working with is the same equipment you would find in a multimillion-dollar production facility. It’s a unique opportunity because most people don’t have access to this stuff.”
The 45-foot, three-room bus has all the equipment a professional recording studio would have and is valued at $2.5 million, Meloney said.
The nonprofit – marking its 20th anniversary this year – tours the nation 10 months out of the year, and works with students from elementary school through college. The engineers work with students to teach them how to create original music and video productions. Students learn everything from the basics of songwriting to more complicated tasks such as video editing and documentary making.
“They are also introduced to a whole world of production jobs they may not have known existed before,” Meloney said. “So it’s exposure to that professional industry. Jobs like a recording engineer or video editor. They get to see all that stuff happen in a professional atmosphere.”
The biggest benefit AP Music Theory teacher Rich Styles saw in the experience was his students being pushed out of their comfort zones, he said.
“All these students are classically trained. They come to these large ensembles and are one of 70,” he said. “They don’t really get that one-on-one teaching or the collaboration like they are doing right now, which is nerve-wracking for them.”
He added that the experience was a way for them to explore their musical creativity, rather than just playing off of sheet music.
“They have to create it, or it doesn’t happen,” he said.
Student Caleb Ruff, 18, said that he was surprised that a professional studio space could exist in a such a small space and he was enjoying the experience.
“It’s been really great,” he said. “I have never seen anything like this. … This is my first time with it. I’ve never really put any thought into it, but it’s been really fun.”