News from the Field: CCAP Students Learn About the Art and Science of Music Recording

This past summer, our staff at the Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP) at Columbia College Chicago 21st CCLC offered Audio Insights, a summer program that enabled 8 high school students to learn about live and recorded sound design, engineering, and production. For 6 weeks, students from North Lawndale College Prep and Sullivan High School had the opportunity to learn about the art of music recording from inception to completion.

The students who participated in our program had previously taken a 21st CCLC funded DJ or music class and had expressed an interest in expanding their understanding of college and career readiness options in music and recording-related fields. During the Audio Insights program, students worked in a professional recording studio at Columbia’s Audio Arts & Acoustics Department to record and mix professional work. Our program partnered with several community-based arts organizations that provided performers that performed their songs in the studio for students to record. Many of the students also wrote, performed, and produced their own songs. In addition to exploring artistic expression, students learned about equipment, acoustics, and the science of sound. These concepts can be intimidating for students, but we discovered that when students explore them in the context of something they love, they learn in new and different ways.

The high school participants worked with Columbia College students who were studying audio arts and acoustics. They were also mentored by part-time faculty member, Studio Manager, and Engineer, Tony Miccolis. Because the program was held on a college campus, involved several partner organizations, and often lasted into the evening, we faced several logistical challenges to make things work; however, we were impressed with and appreciative of the level of commitment from everyone involved to make things work. The program culminated with a final rap party where students presented the music they had recorded for their families and community members.

The program has received positive feedback from all of the participants, with students showing that they had a better understanding of career options in the area of music. Many reported that they saw how their interests and passions aligned with college and career opportunities.

To learn more about our program, take a look at some of our students’ “audio insights” and see for yourself the progression of the instruction that took place.