What do you think of when you hear the words “Harmony and Chords?” Perhaps a song or music instruction class. What about how it applies to the audio and recording music industry as part of a lesson in Natomas Unified School District’s newest Career Technical Education (CTE) Pathway – Music Production? Along with a lesson on harmony and chords, students enrolled in this pathway are being exposed and prepared for career opportunities in the audio field while being challenged with real-world concepts and technologies found in today’s professional recording and audio studios.
“When I was in high school, I was always writing music. It’s always been a passion of mine, so I thought.. wouldn’t it be really great to be able to teach my passion of songwriting, and I am able to do that with this CTE class,” said Jeff Galindo, who taught music at Natomas Middle School for 15 years before joining the Natomas High School family to teach and grow the Music Production pathway. “My goal is to give students, who always wanted to know how to write and record music but never thought it was possible, an opportunity to know it is possible and to show them how.”
Dominic Mwansa is one of those students that Galindo is helping to expand their knowledge and to achieve in areas where they didn’t think possible. Now in the 12th grade, Dominic says he chose this path because of his love for music and his desire to play the piano and produce music tags and beats one day. “Growing up in South Africa, music has been my passion, so I always wanted to find out how artists and producers come together and create great music.” Dominic and his classmates are able to learn that in addition to songwriting, arranging, mixing, recording, publishing, using the equipment, and getting music radio ready.
“My hope is for students to have a place where they can explore the different industry standard tools and techniques in order to create and produce music as well as discover the many careers associated with music production.” And that is the hope for 12th grader Tyler Thierry who likes the creativeness and collaboration within the class. “I like that everyone is having a good time in the class. I hope to gain more knowledge to make good beats, become a better producer, and recording artist to make my music a profession.”
While many students are like Tyler with a desire to make a career in the audio and recording industry, others like 11th grader Camila Chicatto Varga plan to use the transferable skills in other areas of her life. “Prior to this class, I was in band for five years, but I’d reached the point where I felt like I wasn’t advancing anymore… All I want from this course is a clearer idea about how the music world works, specifically the creative side. I doubt I’ll ever be a professional music producer or anything of the sort, but I still have a big interest in it.”
AJ Giersch, Director of Career Technical Education, says the CTE pathways are really about providing students with real-world experiences that allow them to build upon their previous knowledge in core subjects. “Everyday CTE students have ‘aha moments’ where they connect lessons from core subjects to their career passion. Music and math have a clear alignment. Students who may have struggled in math lessons, or who may have lost interest, are able to apply mathematics to time their production perfectly.”
Natomas Unified School District provides 9 CTE Pathways for students to choose from at each high school. High School students are encouraged to select a Pathway or any other college-readiness programs such as IB, AP Capstone, or CECA. The key is making sure that students have options when they graduate from high school.
And as for the Music Production Pathway, Galindo says it’s for students at all levels. No matter where students are in music, they will learn the basic practices and fundamentals of music and audio. “I always tell them there are no rules. If you like what’s coming out of the speakers, job-well done.”
For more information on Natomas Unified School District’s Career Technical Education Pathways, please visit https://natomasunified.org/cte/.