Music has always been a big part of junior Luke Halski’s life. He played clarinet, saxophone, and drums in elementary school and was a member of the band in middle school. Now he has shifted his focus to music production and musical engineering. “When choosing classes for my junior year I saw that music production was an option. I was excited to be able to take a class where I can learn and practice what I love to do in my free time,” he said.
The course, taught by Ray Sherrock, covers music theory, composition, MIDI (musical instrument digital interface), sequencing, and music production. Students have hands-on experience composing and arranging music using studio software. “Like math, music requires logical and sequential thought. Patterns are generated in order to engage and entertain,” Mr. Sherrock explained. “When students create music, they have to make decisions that make sense vertically (harmony) and horizontally (both rhythm and harmonic progression).”
Because Luke had some experience with music production and shared a sample of one of his previous works, Mr. Sherrock offered him the opportunity to create the BPM (beats per minute or tempo) and key for the class. Luke explained, “When starting music production, it’s helpful to use what are called ‘loops’ or ‘samples’ which can consist of four bars or longer pieces that repeat indefinitely. Loops are used by composers as foundations on which to build music compositions.
Students were assigned the task of using Luke’s BPM in a new work (an arrangement, sequence, song, or track) of their choice, and then compared the results from producer to producer. Luke also offered two additional samples for a collaborative project, for which students worked in pairs to create two different sequences or tracks. He also used his extensive knowledge of the program FL Studio (a digital audio workstation) to share some of the creative tools with which he’s familiar in a manner that was transferable to Soundtrap, the program used in class.
Getting asked to lead a project for the class “was a big compliment to the music that I make,” Luke said. “I wanted to make sure my classmates felt satisfied that they had something good to use when they created the beats around my loop.”
“In a class that asks students to generate creative content, it’s critically important to incorporate their styles, preferences, and skills as well as give them plenty of choices,” said Mr. Sherrock. “Students come into Music Production with a variety of experience, knowledge, and interests. Luke’s contributions as both a creator and a role model have been very helpful.”