Mount Baker Secondary School’s innovative and renowned music recording program has taken a step upward into yet another level.
The school’s Music Composition and Technology (MCT) Course, headed up by instructor Evan Bueckert, has secured the rights to some top of the line software for its recording facility — Orange Door Studios — as well as some new hardware.
Bueckert developed the Baker program and launched it in 2004.From a rudimentary rock school program of five students, it has since then grown to a lab of 15 stations, involving 30 students each term, putting out two fully produced albums each year.
“This has put us on the map as the most technologically advanced and prolific high school recording arts teaching studio in Canada,” Bueckert said, during a tour of the upgrades in the school music room.
The new software is called Reason 8.3, developed by the Swedish company Propellerhead Software. It is in the mail, and should be available for the class as the new term commences.
Makayla Lubbers, in Grade 11, is familiar with earlier versions of the software, and describes it as a virtual studio.
“It’s really user friendly. You can start from basically no experience in writing music, and just open it up and go for it.”
The software simulates instruments — any instrument — plus all the effects to be found in the digital can even be set to reproduce the sounds of famous studios, like Abbey Road in London, for example. Bueckert also says it’s groundbreaking in its networkability.
“From all my research, I can’t find any other school that’s teaching in a multi-seat licensed lab.”
The school has also acquired a new Behringer X-32 channel digital mixing console, which Bueckert says is the most cutting edge technology out on the road today — “pretty much every band in the world either tours with one or demands that one be available for their shows.”
Bueckert himself helped mix two recent concerts — DOA and Great Lake Swimmers — on this board, “and everyone was right at home.”
As to the new board, acquired with the help of Columbia Basin Trust, as well as it’s use in the studio it will see service during the school’s dramatic and musical numbers, like the upcoming “Mary Poppins.”
Makayla ran the board last year from the musical production of ‘Drowsy Chaperone.”
“The one thing was that every time there’s a scene change you have to change things manually — your hands are flying all over. With this new board all the scenes can be pre-programmed.”
Bueckert says these new advances, plus a wonderful acoustic live room, several treated iso-booths and a comprehensive microphone collection have been getting the school attention from far and wide.
Meanwhile, students have just wrapped up the introductory version of the MCT course and their album is about to come out. The advanced class of the course is commencing with the new term.
Sienna Rudrum, a Grade 12 student, was involved with the album’s creation, including contributing a song (students get one song each for the album produced in Grade 11, five to seven songs each for the album produced in Grade 12).
“The album, I think, is kind advanced for our age group,” Sienna said. “Everybody got really into the program this year, and we spent a lot of time on our songs.
Sienna’s own song, in the Indie style, is her own lyrics sung to piano accompaniment. But the album as a whole covers a wide range of styles — “Some of it’s kind of ‘rappy,’ some is more Indie, or alternative; some people are doing jingles. There are some people concentrating on a storyline.”
Bueckert said that while grad students are producing their own work, more importantly they dare gaining hands-on experience recording, mixing and producing other live acts in the studio.
“It is a win-win situation: visiting artists get free studio time, and the students get work experience. It has been a successful venture so far.
“The best part is that the kids are leaving the class fully prepped on the latest tech and concepts in the industry and pursuing careers.”
Both students recommend the course heartily — extolling how it helps one tap into one’s creativity.
“It’s my favourite class,” Sienna said. “You feel really good after finishing a song — or even just a bar.”
The new album, written and produced by the students, is available as of today on soundcloud (https://soundcloud.com/orangedoors).