Metro Nashville Public Schools’ music education initiative, “Music Makes Us,” provides students at Nashville’s Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School with a student-run record label mentored by Warner Music Nashville and a complete world-class recording studio designed, equipped and guided by the efforts of P&E Wing members
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (May 21, 2013) — On May 8, 2013, leading members of The Recording Academy® Producers & Engineers Wing®, along with Nashville public officials, representatives from key sponsors, members of the media and more attended a red-carpet event celebrating the grand opening of the new recording program and facility at Nashville’s Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet School. On hand to help commemorate the occasion were Nashville Mayor Karl Dean; Scott Hendricks, Senior Vice President of A&R for Warner Music Nashville; Nancy Shapiro, The Recording Academy Senior Vice President, Member Services; Pearl-Cohn Principal Sonia Stewart; Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) Director Dr. Jesse Register; and more. The studio, part of the first-ever student-run record label in a high school (announced earlier this year by Mayor Dean, Dr. Register, and John Esposito, president/CEO of Warner Music Nashville), was designed and assembled by members of the P&E Wing, who contributed their time and talents over the course of the last year. Pearl-Cohn is the only entertainment magnet high school in the country. The studio will serve the school’s Academy of Entertainment Management and Academy of Entertainment Communication divisions.
Addressing the crowd of more than 100 Nashville luminaries assembled in the school’s lobby, Nancy Shapiro commented, “When you ask the P&E Wing to work on something, you better be dreaming big.” Members of the Pearl-Cohn Subcommittee of the P&E Wing, including Subcommittee Chair Jeff Balding, Nashville P&E Wing Committee Chairman Chuck Ainlay, Steve Durr, Ben Fowler, Julian King, Sam Lorber, Nick Palladino, Terry Palmer, Matt Schlachter and Nashville Chapter President Jon Randall Stewart, all contributed their collective knowledge, wisdom and passion to the project, which features a 32-channel API 1608 console and JBL® Professional M2 Master Reference Monitors in the main control room and two 5.1 surround sound post/editing suites equipped with SSL Nucleus DAW controllers. Additionally, the facility is equipped with products from Audio-Technica, Fredenstein Professional Audio, the HARMAN® Professional brands (AKG® Acoustics, JBL Professional and Lexicon®) and Shure. Representatives from these supporters were in attendance at the red-carpet event to help celebrate the studio’s opening.
Subcommittee member Steve Durr of Nashville-based Steven Durr Designs also served as the designer for the studio, laying out the acoustical and ergometric concepts. His portfolio includes studios for Austin City Limits, The Black Keys, Mark Ronson, Lenny Kravitz and Zac Brown. He stated, “I tried to achieve a design that would allow students to experience recording music with both machines and people,” Durr explains, citing the large control room that will allow several students and teachers to work comfortably using drum machines, digital samplers and synthesizers as well as the recording equipment, and the sizable tracking room where they will be able to capture great recordings of live musicians playing in ensemble. “What I hope this ultimately accomplishes is that kids will now be able to learn about making music in an environment that was designed around great sound. Kids who have been brought up on MP3s can experience what music can really sound like. That can change their lives.”
The studio, which cost $1.2 million to build and outfit (not including thousands of hours of donated labor), is a multi-room facility with a spacious control room whose sleek design belies the challenges it posed to make it conform to classroom and other design requirements, such as adapting access to the API 1608 console for ADA compliance. “There was so much that went into this that goes way beyond the typical recording studio,” said Nashville P&E Wing Co-Chair Chuck Ainlay, a GRAMMY® Award-winning producer/engineer who has worked with artists including Mark Knopfler, Miranda Lambert, George Strait and Peter Frampton. The studio also features several isolation booths and two 5.1 surround sound editing suites with acoustical treatments donated by Acoustics In A Box and Perdue Acoustics. In addition, the facility houses a multi-station teaching area with individual Apple iMac-equipped workstations for 30 students connected to the teacher’s station and to the studio.
Multiple GRAMMY Award nominee Jeff Balding says the project was about giving back to the community, but it was also a technical challenge in which P&E Wing members were eagerly engaged. “It’s great to see the whole community come together over this — teachers, artists, engineers, producers, and more. I believe in pouring our experience into the generation coming after us. If we can take our ceiling and make that their floor, it will allow them to take our industry to a much higher level, and that’s exciting to me.”
“My vision for Music City is to have the best music education program in the world,” Mayor Dean said. “The music industry and philanthropic community have embraced this vision and are working tirelessly with the city and Metro Schools to make it a reality. The opening of this label and studio are wonderful milestones in the development of Music Makes Us and moves us closer to that ultimate goal.”
Balding continued, “We wanted to get the feel of a real recording studio here, but we also knew it needed to function as an actual classroom.” He added that even through the Pearl-Cohn studio is an amalgam of state-of-the-art technology and the exceptional technical experience of the P&E Wing members, it’s far more than the sum of its parts. “This is something that will always be here,” he says. “It’s for future generations of music creators.”
About Music Makes Us
Music Makes Us is a joint effort of Metro Nashville Public Schools, Mayor Karl Dean and music industry and community leaders. The Music Makes Us initiative will lead the nation in music education. With a focus on music literacy and student participation, Music Makes Us is strengthening traditional school music while adding a contemporary curriculum that embraces new technologies and reflects a diverse musical landscape.
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Photo Caption: Pictured L-R: Sonia Stewart, Principal, Pearl-Cohn; Don Wershba, Sr. Vice President, SSL; Piers Plaskitt, CEO, SSL; Roxanne Ricks, Artist Relations, Audio-Technica; Sam Lorber, Instructional Designer, Pearl-Cohn; Ben Fowler, P&E Wing Sub-Committee member and producer/engineer; Nick Palladino, P&E Wing Sub-Committee member and Owner, NPALL Audio; Mayor Karl Dean; Julian King, P&E Wing Sub-Committee member and producer/engineer; Joseph Wagoner, Product Manager, AKG; Nancy Shapiro, Sr. Vice President, The Recording Academy; Steve Durr, Owner, Steven Durr Designs; Chuck Ainlay, P&E Wing Committee Chairman and producer/engineer; Scott Hendricks, Sr. Vice President of A&R, Warner Music Nashville; Jon Randall Stewart, The Recording Academy Nashville Chapter President and singer/songwriter/musician; Jeff Balding, P&E Wing Sub-Committee Chair and producer/engineer; Peter Chaikin, Senior Manager Recording and Broadcast Marketing, JBL Professional; Dr. Jesse Register, Director of Schools, MNPS; Larry Droppa, President and Owner, API; Terry Palmer, Owner, Terry Palmer Services; Ryan Smith, Regional Manager of Artist Relations, Shure Incorporated. Photo by Frederick Breedon. Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy®/WireImage.com. © 2013.