Exploring Creativity through the New Music Production Club
A new club at St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) is inspiring student musicians while providing invaluable opportunities to gain hands-on experience with digital music production.
“I think the pandemic was a catalyst for digital creativity when we were all hunkered down and not able to share in the act of making music live and in person,” says Amy McLennan, SMCS music teacher and moderator of the Music Production Club. “Some great works have come out of that period and music production continues to be a creative outlet readily available to all who take advantage of the technology.”
The club meets weekly in the Midi Room where students can collaborate, share their work, and get valuable feedback from peers.
“This sets a safe and comfortable environment for the students to present their various ideas to each other and to help figure out what works best and hooks the listener and offer suggestions on how to make their music more catchy and enjoyable,” adds McLennan.
“Music has always been a great passion of mine,” says Elijah Allen, Grade 11, one of the club’s student moderators who helped launch it this year.
“I started producing music as early as 11 years old on my father’s iPad. I would spend hours creating something new,” he says. “My parents noticed my interest in music and purchased my first Digital Audio Interface FL studio. This expanded my knowledge of the music industry and taught me many valuable skills and strategies. Last year, I recorded my first ever song at a studio and I fell in love with songwriting and recording original music.”
Providing Opportunities to Explore the Industry
Allen had the idea to create the club earlier in 2022 to introduce his peers to the art of music production and provide a creative space for students to collaborate and build on their talents and ideas. He then partnered with his friend and classmate, Braeden Leon-Williamson, to co-moderate the club.
“I was truly excited about this opportunity as not only could I contribute to the creation of a community of individuals who share my passion for music, but also assist others in discovering a passion they did not even realize they had,” says Leon-Williamson. “Through the club, we were able to strengthen the school community, which is important to me.”
In addition to the opportunities the club offers students in working and collaborating with their peers, they have also invited special guests to teach them more about the industry, while sharing their projects and critiquing the students’ work.
“We have some alumni who have dabbled in music production and who are actively working as musicians, sound engineers, and producers,” says McLennan. “Sharing their stories of how they got into the business and who they worked with gives students a tangible pathway to their future in this field, especially if they hear it from someone who was in their shoes in recent years.”
In early March 2023, Patrick Bodi ’15 and Liam Jessup, founders of 254sound, met members of the Music Production Club. The team showcased some of the songs they’ve worked on, demonstrated their process of putting them together, answered many questions from students, and listened to and provided valuable feedback on student projects.
“Producing music gives me the opportunity to express my feelings and share my creativity with others,” says Allen. “Ever since I started producing, I have become more confident and willing to share my music. Producing gives me the ability to create something from scratch and see the end result. When I complete a project, it provides me with a sense of achievement and boosts my self-esteem. There are no restrictions to music, and you can create as much as your heart desires.”
Feeding Students’ Growing Interests
McLennan looks forward to seeing the club grow in numbers throughout the year.
“More minds equal more ideas and growth for the club,” she says. “I want the students to take ownership of the flow of the group, to engage each other and collaborate to create some music we can use on campus on our morning announcements, at sporting and school events, as well as the possibility of promoting the group with their own work online. They are in the driver’s seat here – I am learning from them, and they have inspired me to jump into this world to create my own music.”
The Music Production club is just one of more than 60 clubs and activities that SMCS offers students spanning a range of interests from arts and culture to service, sports, and many more.
“It is important for SMCS to invest in its student body and where their passions lie, whether it’s music related or academic, the students have a diverse range of interests that deserve to be acknowledged,” says Allen. “The SMCS community consists of many talented students, and they should have the ability to grow and build on these talents.”
McLennan adds, “SMCS is a school full of creative types who want to express themselves artistically, through live performance, and now through this digital medium. By providing spaces and experiences that foster creativity, self/peer evaluation and collaboration, we are helping students reach their own personal creative and expressive goals while fostering individual and group work ethic through an artistic lens.”
“It is important for students to have the opportunity to discover their true passions and interests, whether it is becoming a business-person, an athlete, a music producer, or anything else, within their surroundings,” says Leon-Williamson, who’s passion for making music began while listening to and learning from his eldest brother, an artist in the industry. “I was fortunate enough to be introduced to my passion through my household, but many people do not have the same circumstances. We at SMCS must make the most of our resources and do everything we can to create a variety of opportunities because we are lucky to be in this position and be able to offer clubs that explore diverse interests.”