Los Angeles, CA - June 2017… Randy Rodarte is a music educator on a mission. While most music teachers school their young charges on classical music and orchestral instruments, Rodarte’s Modern Band program at Pio Pico Middle School in central Los Angeles covers music of the last 60-70 years, including Motown, Beatles, and other contemporary sounds, with students learning on modern instruments including electric guitars and basses, electric keyboards, and drums. As he observes, it’s an endeavor that’s highly effective in getting the kids involved early, and holding their interest.
“With classical music, you spend a month or two studying theory before you even pick up an instrument,” Rodarte asserts. “But with modern band, on the very first day of class, they’re in there, choosing an instrument and making sound. For many of them, it might be something they never thought they could do before.”
Rodarte’s class also studies the basics of recording and multitracking, using TASCAM Portastudios to lay down tracks and overdub. “One of our goals for the semester is for them to write a song,” explains Rodarte. “They came up with music, lyrics, and we worked out the whole arrangement. We recorded the band yesterday, and today we’re overdubbing the vocals.”
Recording their music has been a great way to keep the kids engaged, says Rodarte. “TASCAM products not only speak to the students, they enable them to see how recording is done. When they see how they can record the band, then go back and put a vocal over it, and then a guitar, and more, their eyes just get huge.”
TASCAM has been a part of Rodarte’s musical career since early on, he recounts. “TASCAM goes back at least 25 years with me. When I was in bands, when I started writing my own songs I had a TASCAM Portastudio 414 that I carried with me everywhere — to gigs, to parties, everywhere. Because you just never know when something might happen.”
For today’s students, says Rodarte, the technology comes all the more easily. “Today’s kids are technology based. They learn differently, and the TASCAM products are so intuitive, they’ve got it figured out in no time.”
Rodarte is quick to point out that his goal with modern band is not to replace classical music, but to focus on music that holds today’s kids’ interest. “It’s not that classical music should disappear. But it needs to be augmented with modern band; modern instruments; modern ways of keeping the attention spans that have grown very short.”
Rodarte sums it up: “TASCAM products are perfect not only for my class, but for the future of music education.”