Kids make music with computers

Tuesday, May 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:24 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Most music artists cannot wait for their first CD release party. On May 3 at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center at MU, about 10 children who participate in the mentoring program Moving Ahead attended a party to celebrate the creation of a CD, which featured their own songs.

MU seniors Edward Watson and Andrew Duenke created the CD program for their capstone projects in service learning. Both are scheduled to receive degrees in interdisciplinary studies this weekend.

Duenke and Watson were friends before their project and decided to collaborate on their capstones when they found out that they were working with the same group of students, ages 7 to 12. The children participate in Moving Ahead, an after-school program for at-risk students at the J.W. “Blind” Boone Center. The Columbia Housing Authority acquired the grant money in September to start the program. Watson wanted to teach the children about music, and Duenke wanted to teach them about computers. They combined these two ideas by allowing the children to use a computer program to create their own songs.

Duenke found the free computer software ACID Xpress, which takes one beat and repeats it to create a song. The children chose the beats for their songs and later went back to record their voices over them.

Watson taught the students about the music part of the project, such as tempo and pitch, and Duenke taught them how to use the computer program. The result was a 27-track CD.

Jeff and Toinette Johnson’s children participate in the Moving Ahead program through the center. Their son Raymond recorded a couple of songs.

Jeff Johnson, a resident commissioner for the Columbia Housing Authority, said he had never seen anything like the CD program before.

“You can see for yourself these kids are really happy that they made this CD and are enjoying themselves,” he said.

Even though Johnson does not envision his stepson growing up to become a rapper, he does see Raymond holding on to the CD and showing it to his children someday.

Thinking back on his accomplishment, Raymond said, “It makes me very proud.”

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