Students Create Original CDs, Learn Software Skills in Unique Music Education Program at Horace Mann Middle School

Most schools have a band or music program of some kind.

At Horace Mann Middle School in El Portal, they’ve taken music education a step further in the Music Entertainment Technology magnet program.

“They actually start using the instrument that they’ve learned and the software that they’ve mastered to start creating their own original CD’s,” explained Carl Pinder, the teacher who runs the program.

So let’s back up for a minute. The students in the three-year program start in 6th grade. Most of them are learning to play an instrument for the first time, and by the time they finish 8th grade, they’re playing music, composing their own songs, designing album cover art, and laying down beats, becoming what Pinder calls, “technically viable musicians.”

“The most important aspect of this program is how it changes lives, two things: opportunity and access, from the access standpoint, if we give students access to this equipment, they have opportunities to do so many more things,” said principal Kevin Lawrence.

The skills that the kids are absorbing aren’t just for middle school or high school or college, this program is a gift that will last them a lifetime.

Beyond music, they’re learning several computer programs on both PCs and Macs, including Photoshop and Office, and their teacher says they become more diligent. More focused, and more creative in class.

“The last 13 student valedictorians came from our three-year music program,” Pinder said. “It gives them the skills they need to be successful not just in music, but in life.”

“And to see the love that they have when they come to class,” Lawrence added, “this in itself gives kids a reason to want to come to school, to want to do well, to want to excel, to want to perform.”

That’s the power of music, and when kids are empowered to create something with their own talents, it’s hard to beat.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for them, at an early age, to grow and build their talent and move on from here and do other great things,” Lawrence said.

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