In the digital media lab at Portland Adventist Academy, students build skills in photography, videography, and graphic design. In the art studio, students can see their digital designs come to life with the help of 3D printers and a plasma cutter. And in the recording studio, students get to capture their music forever in time.
In every corner of PAA’s campus, technology is providing ways for students to create art, design, and music while giving them opportunity to share their purpose and mission.
Music teacher, Jeremy Long spends a lot of time in the school’s professional-standard recording studio. Long teaches guitar and theory and requires his students to be proficient in both before they join the Performance & Production class.
Long is a firm believer in sequential learning so before his students enter the school’s professional-standard recording studio, fundamentals are secure.
“Equivalent to learning the names of the strings on a guitar,” says Long, “knowing how to use different kinds of microphones to capture sound is essential to an aspiring audio engineer.”
Music comes easy to some students. Daniel Ramos, a PAA senior, began piano lessons at a young age and later his dad helped him learn to play by ear. He learned guitar. Led music at church with his family. He sang in choirs. He led music at church and school.
But in a serious class like Performance & Production, students aren’t there to simply create music. They are there to discover how manipulating and mastering the sounds of instruments and voices through recording equipment and sophisticated software can create the exact sound desired to make their music feel they way it should.
Music, and ultimately its message, becomes more powerful when it is processed.
“The studio is an exciting yet daunting place with endless possibilities and a seemingly equal number of obstacles,” says Long. “But my students have done a fantastic job crossing that technical threshold.”
“When I see their eyes light up as they’ve figured something out,” says Long, “I try not to hover because that’s when the studio becomes a musical playground and I don’t want to stand in the way!”
For Ramos, it was 90 hours of work and play that resulted in his Senior Project: an original song and a collection of arranged songs recorded and produced in the PAA recording studio and sound-booth.
“Danny is an incredible musician with remarkable self-discipline,” says Long. “His senior project is an astonishing work of art. And, amazingly, it was his first real project in the studio.”
Long wasn’t the only one impressed.
Ramos’s Senior Project earned a rare perfect score upon his presentation in front of a panel of adjudicating teachers. At PAA, a perfect score means that the work was purpose-driven and completed for a Higher call than a grade alone.
“I’ve always loved music,” Ramos says. “I’ve seen that music lets Jesus speak into our lives. I’ve seen Him speaking to others and I’ve felt Him speaking to me.”
It was opening the doors of the recording studio that finally allowed Ramos to capture the music that stirs inside him and to ultimately share it with others for the glory of God.
Ramos’s original song, entitled “Surrender,” is an honest reflection and sincere invitation. “I often catch myself trying to handle and control all aspects of life,” he says. “Academics, athletic success and even relationships with others. It was only when I surrendered my entire being and realized that victory is only found in Christ that my relationship with Him changed for the better, inspiring me to write this song.”
“Thankful to God for the Chance to Spread the Gospel through my first single. May all the Glory and Honor be given to Him. This song is inspired to remind us all to Surrender, whether you’re in the midst of struggles and pain, or maybe just want something more, Surrender to Christ and He will fill you up and carry you all the way home.” ~Daniel Ramos, from Surrender on SoundCloud.
You can hear Daniel’s song “Surrender” and share it with others via his SoundCloud page HERE.