Middle school students compose clean rap music

3:09 PM, Jan 15, 2013   |    comments
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Middle school students are exploring their musical ability without real instruments.

It's a positive outlet for students that goes beyond just composing and performing.

Students make music with mouses on computers by playing virtual instruments.

Eighth grade student Sammie Jenkins found a creative outlet at Bearden Middle School. It's the Garage Band Club named for the computer program called GarageBand.

"I just remember when I was their age how rap came out. I used to love LL Cool J and a lot of other old rap songs that kind of spoke to me and my friends sometimes," Bearden Middle School teacher Mike Weininger said.

He started the club.

"That's why I wanted to get into education to try to help students transform themselves. Especially the students who are kind of falling in between the cracks, the students who are not being reached, the students who are getting frustrated by the system, the students who have so much potential that we're not able to reach all the time, he said.

Sammie Jenkins explained, "You can let other people hear it and some people didn't know how you felt and all that and it changes other people's minds."

Students use different approaches to creating clean rap music with software one layer at a time.

Some write out lyrics, some start with the beat, while Tomier Lundy has his own method.

"I can write a hook in two minutes, a chorus in two minutes, and a verse in about three or four minutes. It don't take me that long," 7th grade student Tomier Lundy said.

It didn't take long for the middle school students to embrace the after school Garage Band Club and their musical futures.

Tomier Lundy has a goal to "expand my vocabulary and different stuff that I talk about in my raps."

Sammie Jenkins said his is "taking it farther and making it better and advancing it."

Lorenzo Qualls wrote a song for a student who passed away then Mike Weininger shared the song with other teachers.

"One of them hears it and sent it to the student who passed away's family and they played it at that young man's funeral. So I thought it was very powerful and a really strong song," he said.

An end of the year CD features the songs created in the classroom.

"It doesn't have to be that gangster commercial stuff that's exploitive all the time talking about money and girls and things that are negative. There's a lot of really great positive songs too," Weininger said.

Tomier said, "It's motivating and inspiring. I like to inspire a whole lot of people who may not have much and write about real like stories."

Club members perform at school dances in front of their peers.

"Kind of scary," Sammie said. Does it get easier? "Not really."

Performances at other venues earn them compensation in the form of new equipment for the club.

"We earned all the extra stuff like drumpads, key pads, more mics," Sammie said.

Collaboration and competition bring out the kids' creativity.

Weininger said, "Now they have a connection to school and they're on the computer and they're learning applications and it's transferable. If you get really good on the computer in one application you can go to another application and take what you learned there."

He only wishes other schools would start Garage Band Clubs to teach and reach students with music.

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