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Nazareth Prep Re-Imagines Music Education

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania  (Feb. 19, 2019) – In Leslie Chabala’s music classes, everyone is a producer. The music and computer science teacher at local high school Nazareth Prep puts the power in the hands of her students, giving them the technical skills, and the platform, to share their own musical creations. 

The ninth graders in Chabala’s Music and Media class spend the first half of the year learning elements of music production. Using digital audio workstations like GarageBand, they create beats and instrumental tracks, mix, edit, and record their own songs. This work is paired with literacy components as they also write their own lyrics. 

Their projects culminate in a December concert, with participation from students in the choir and Leslie’s band classes, who have also been composing their own songs. In the second half of the year, as band students continue to compose and perform their own music, Music and Media students explore music in film, ultimately directing, filming, and editing short movies with an emphasis on soundtrack as an integral part of storytelling.

These hands-on experiences with creation, Chabala has found, engage students in a way that simply studying and recreating the work of others cannot. Additionally, while not every student will pursue a career in music, all of them can apply their new skills in digital literacy and self-expression throughout their studies, their jobs and their lives.

“My students listen to music every day,” says Chabala, “Part of my job is helping them discover that they can be more than an audience of this thing they enjoy; they can actually participate in it. They can become creators themselves and use this powerful tool to tell their own stories.”