Musical program visits Lincoln High School, Fort Morgan Middle School, Pop Up Community Center
Students at Lincoln High School and Fort Morgan Middle School got a musical treat Thursday, as the deTour music program visited Fort Morgan.
It gave students a chance to hear and see performances by professional musical artists and learn from them about some of the things they are used to hearing on the radio (or on iTunes, Spotify, YouTube, etc.).
One of this year’s deTour performers was Isaac Slade, lead singer of The Fray. He is involved with Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Take Note Colorado initiative, which aims to provide every child in kindergarten through 12th grade in the state access to instruments and music education. Slade said that was something that was important to him.
He wowed audiences tiny and larger in Fort Morgan, playing songs like “How to Save a Life” and “You Found Me” at smaller group sessions at Lincoln and FMMS, and then larger assembly shows to close out the morning session at Lincoln and for the whole student body at FMMS to end the afternoon deTour session.
Slade said he had enjoyed the visit to Fort Morgan and getting to share his love of music with the students.
“It’s beautiful out here,” he said, adding that as he had headed east out of Denver, he felt a “sense of peace” come over him.
Joining Slade at one set of the small-group sessions was musician Gedeon Carmel. They each sang their songs while playing piano or guitar, and Carmel shared his story of discovering music growing up in the Congo and then travelling to the United States to pursue music education and playing professionally.
Slade also answered questions and even posed for pictures with those who asked, drawing lots of smiles and gratitude, and Carmel spoke with many students about his musical journey.
Owen Trujillo and Hugo Rodriguez of 2MX2, along with Lolita Cateneda, held session with students on the importance of pitch and how Autotune computer software can be used to correct missed notes.
“It was awesome. I listened to myself sing,” 14-year-old Yolanda Galan said of getting to sing into the microphone and hear Trujillo apply Autotune to what she sang.
Diego Felix, aka DJ Full Metal, had turntables for the students to learn about scratching and how samples can be picked out of spinning records.
“It’s about finding the sound you want and bringing it back,” Felix told the students, showing them how to use the turntable to do what a DJ wanted it to do.
“You might be wondering how did I know where that sample’s at. It’s this thing called ‘clock theory,'” he explained, showing the kids how to mark a record and keep track of the mark from the a point marked 12 as if the record were a clock. “You mark the record so you can see where to back spin it to from 12.”
“I think it’s great because it’s something that’s more relatable to them sometimes,” band/orchestra teacher Nick LeMaire said of the deTour visit. “It gives them an opportunity we don’t always have in our class.”
“This is a very thrilling and exciting day for all of us,” choral/modern rock band teacher Rosie O’Connor said. “I feel like it’s going to spark interest in non-traditional music.”
Re-3 Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Assessment Dr. Rena Frasco called it “a phenomenal day” for the Re-3 School District and its students.
Later in the evening, Trujillo and Rodriguez from 2MX2, Casteneda, Carmel and Felix took their gear over to the Fort Morgan Pop Up Community Center and met with the crowd of more than 55 people who showed up. They demonstrated Autotune, using the turntables and singing while playing guitar, just as they had done earlier in the day at the schools.
“It’s been a beautiful day in Fort Morgan,” Rodriguez said in between visits with people at the community center. “Thanks for having us.”
Watching over everything happening during the deTour visit was Kyle James Hauser, programs coordinator for The Music District and deTour.
When the Take Note initiative was starting, state officials were looking to incorporate a music performance component, he said, and The Music District suggested that its deTour program could become a part of that.
“Detour exists. We already have a model,” Hauser said The Music District told the Take Note organizers. “Let us take you into some of the schools.”
Thus was born the partnership between Take Note and deTour.
This was not the first visit for deTour to Fort Morgan, with it bringing the Flobots and 2MX2 her in 2015.
But while DeTour had been around for a couple years, it previously was run by a different state program that combined with The Music District, Hauser explained.
Fort Morgan was one of five school districts chosen for deTour visits this fall, he said. That selection was made after a statewide study was completed of existing school music programs, with Fort Morgan having a strong program in place. Re-3 also has a high level of diversity, which was another factor in its selection by Take Note for a deTour stop.
“One of the coolest things about the program is as long as there is some meaningful interaction between the students and performers,” it is meeting the goal, Hauser said. “We’re looking for those moments of impact that can really steer students toward music. You’re giving students a chance to experience something they’ve only seen on TV and movies.”
Take Note, deTour and The Music District also gave three of the turntables used at the visit to the Re-3 School District, Hauser said.
“They’re kind of starter professional turntables,” he said. “The mission of deTour, Take Note an The Music District in general is to teach kids to play the music they listen to.”
Jenni Grubbs: email@example.com or Twitter @JenniGrubbs