Today was an incredibly sunny and crisp day. Most of the group met on Chrystie and Delancey–on time and ready to rock. Meanwhile, the other half experienced the adventure of getting somewhat lost and navigating their way thorugh Lower Manhattan.
Farbeon met us at the door of Dixon Place and escorted us into the theater’s very cool upstairs cafe. where open mics, stand up and small-scale performances happen on a daily basis. The students admired the mis-matched chairs, the wall plasteres with black and white photos of past performers adn the seriously out-of-tune piano! Ms. Wilson’s attempt at playing “Fur Elise” sounded like the slow death of a large animal.
Once all students found their way to Dixon Place’s door, Farbeon gave us a breakdown of the day and expected outcomes, including completed songs and scratch recordings. The program started in the main theater which was really beautiful and high-tech. The main floor and backdrop wall were gleaming white which inevitable became the backdrop for students to snap photos of each other. We were rounded up for what turned out to be a really fun and enlivening set of theather games that encouraged communication, stage presence and leadership. The students were definitely warmed up and ready to get down to business after that!
In the small recording room, Farbeon did a “demo” of how scratch recording work. He talked us through his writing process, his vision and intention for his piece and then launched into a scratch recording. With the room in complete silence, Farbeon recorded layers of lyrics, sound effects, echoes, refrains, intros and outros all against a really interesting beat. It was amazing to watch, the students were so focused! Then, it was the student’s turn!
With some deliberation, they were all split into final groupings for writing and recording, and disperesed throughout Dixon Place. Some in the cafe, some in the stairwell, some in the lighting loft of the theater, and some just pacing around the entire space with headphones. Each individual or group had selected a beat and they were working on refining the lyrics and creating a flow. This “work-shopping” lasted for over 2 hours with Farbeon’s extremely supportive coaching and guidance, along with Mr. Foreman and Ms. Wilson’s feedback.
Meanwhile, in a back corner of the recording studio, CUNY Prep’s very own, Rondell Charles, was serving as a recording tech support. Rondell–who was hired for the day by Hip Hop Re:Education Project and is a Digital Media major at Hostos–helped Farbeon get students into the studio to record and basically made the recordings happen! It was amazing to witness the “generations” of CP crossing paths and working together.
Almost all the students had an opportunity to complete scratch recordings. At the end of the day, Farbeon facilitated a de-brief of the whole experience, a listening party, and a preview of the next week. The students who did record were beaming when they heard their own voices. It was clear that they were so excited and proud of their accomplishments.
Farbeon bid us farewell with a clear message for the students: practice, practice, practice!
Next Friday, recordings will be final and official!