The bus is a state-of-the-art mobile audio, video and live production facility that travels around the country and is currently in the midst of its sixth annual month-long New York City residency called “Come Together: NYC.”
In the media production workshops, assisted by three on-board engineers, students learn how to write, record, and produce original songs, music videos, documentaries, and live multi-camera video productions in just one day.
The tour bus crew also work with students at the school to form a human peace sign. The activity is to help encourage students to think about peace and what they could do to make the world a more peaceful place.
This year’s theme focus is centered around “Imagine a City With No Gun Violence” although students get to choose whatever topic they feel passionate about when creating their song.
Six Van Buren students, most of whom don’t know each other, gathered together to create their own lyrics and video production from scratch.
“They provide a really enriching, and once-in-a-lifetime experience for the kids who come on the bus,” said Brian Greenspan, coordinator of Student Affairs. “People pay thousands of dollars to record a song and make a video and the kids are getting the opportunity to have the experience so it’s remarkable for them. Who knows what kind of seed it plants for them to have this kind of experience and it could lead them to things they didn’t expect to.”
Student Mushfiq saw the bus when it stopped last year and wanted a chance to create music when it returned last week.
“I saw last year’s video and they had a really good production,” he said. “It’s an exciting thing to do and I’m a little nervous. I like music but I’ve never tried to make my own music. I also like that I’m getting to work with kids from different backgrounds from me.”
Brian Rothschild felt the experience prepares students for their careers because so many jobs nowadays require creative input and working with media or technology.
“It’s really about providing the students with the unique opportunity to create something original and meet new students that they haven’t spoken to before,” said Rothschild. “The bus isn’t just for music students. It’s designed for students with any background and we frequently work with kids who have never had any music in their school, which is sadly the reality of what’s going on. A lot of the time you meet someone who always wanted to play the drums but never held drumsticks in their hands.”
The crew helps the students dive into the world of songwriting and with technology, a quick two-measure beat can be looped so it will end up in the final product.
“The kids get to feel like that’s me, I did a little something and I learned a little something,” Rothschild added. “For more experienced students who play instruments in band or orchestra, when they graduate they almost never play again because there’s no opportunity to. But the truth is that if you love it, you could do all kinds of things just with yourself and your phone these days.”
When completed, the video will be shared on the school’s website and on Youtube.
“I think it’s a good thing because it’s a part of music history,” said english and science teacher Eric Butner. “But beyond that, in this day and age, the important message of peace and love and tolerance and understanding is such a key lesson for all these kids to learn.
“So we do something like this and each of the teachers will express the meaning even if the students don’t know exactly who John Lennon was,” he added. “Maybe they can take something from it that will carry out into their lives that causes some positive momentum into society.”