UDC, DCPS students network with music industry professionals, visit John Lennon Tour Bus

UDC, DCPS students network with music industry professionals, visit John Lennon Tour Bus

UDC, DCPS students network with music industry professionals, visit John Lennon Tour Bus

John Lennon Tour Bus
Interim College of Arts and Sciences Dean Dr. Jeffery Fleming (sitting) poses with members of the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) in front of the John Lennon Tour Bus.

The College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) held a networking event at the Theater of the Arts on November 13 hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and the John Lennon Tour bus.

CAS invited UDC students and students from three DCPS schools – Duke Ellington Performing Arts School, Richard Wright Public Charter School and Jackson-Reed High School.

“The College of Arts and Sciences prioritizes music and digital media education. We see that those are two vital and distinct programs in the College of Arts and Sciences that give us an opportunity to expand our creative juices and understand the complexities that art has in the world. Music education is something that’s very valuable, very important to us,” Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr. Jeffery Fleming said.

“I’m very grateful that the John Lennon bus chose to visit UDC,” Interim Chief Academic Officer April Massey said. “CAS has been my home for several years, and music has been an integral part of the life of the College. Digital media has been an integral part of the life of the College.

“I think it’s also important to note the Mayor is on campus this morning for an apprenticeship program in another building, but if you had the opportunity to look at her Comeback Plan for DC, music and digital media figure prominently in terms of disciplines and occupations that will have a major impact on the city’s growth going forward. So, I think it’s really serendipitous that the bus is here and the opportunity to engage with experts and leaders in these fields on this day is a very significant opportunity in the life of the students, but also in the life of the institution, as it plays a role in the life of the city,” Massey said.

“I know it was probably a big ask when we called and said, might you want us to bring a big mobile recording unit in a bus to campus, especially [since] it’s named after a historic Beatle, and by the way, we’ll bring along maybe 50 industry leaders and figure out a way to connect with students, but you jumped right in with great enthusiasm, and we’re here to support your students and work in this partnership. We hope it’s just the start of something special here, kind of gaining an understanding of how we might work together given some ideas of a pathway for your students for jobs in the music and creative industry,” said Chris White, president and CEO of the music retailer White House of Music.

The Lennon Bus was started 26 years ago when its founder and CEO, Brian Rothschild, brought his idea to the attention of John Lennon’s widow Yoko Ono.

“Over the years, we’ve developed it together, but it’s really been made possible by the community of music partners, and it started with NAMM. Our very first year of the Lennon Bus, we appeared at the NAMM show. We met a lot of the manufacturers whose products and solutions are on board there,” Rothschild said.

“The Lennon Bus is non-profit. It has the mission to provide young people with free opportunities to create original music and videos and short films and documentaries, and of course, it’s special, because it’s an incredible mobile studio, but also because it has John Lennon’s name and image on it, and because of that, it has something extra special that people bring to it when they come on board,” he said.

“They see it as a way to really empower students to speak with their voices, to say what they are thinking about and to do that in a really unique state-of-the-art environment. We see about 250,000 students a year, and I think part of it is about careers in music, so partners like NAMM and the NAMM Foundation are committed to that, because the future of the business, music education, music business, music products is really in your hands,” Rothschild said.

“And so often as we travel around, we recognize that a lot of young people don’t recognize the huge number of career paths that are related to the music business and the allied industry,” he said.

Rothschild introduced the winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest’s Song of the Year, an artist from Philadelphia named Khemist Mayfield, who was selected out of 20,000 entries. As the winner of the contest, he received $20,000, plus guitars, keyboards and microphones.

Students can apply for a scholarship to attend the NAMM show in January 2024 and learn about future shows at nammfoundation.org.

NAMM members met with students in small groups to discuss music career opportunities followed by a tour of the John Lennon Tour Bus, which features a mobile production studio. Afterwards, music and digital media students participated in two days of studio sessions on the bus and created an original song and produced a music video.

Lennon Bus engineers and producers on board the bus led the students through workflows necessary to complete the project.

Sergio, a student at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, liked the event, especially networking with NAMM members and touring the bus.

“I enjoyed networking with people. I have a lot of business cards in my pocket, and I like the bus. It was really cool. I don’t know that much about music, but it was really nice to look at, so I appreciate the aesthetics, and I love the music going around the whole bus. I like that they’re implementing that into a tour bus,” Sergio said.

Milo, a senior at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, thought it was a great opportunity for musicians.

“The inside of the bus was overall really cool, and I like that they have the little space where you can sort of sleep in and stay in so you can continue working on your music the next day … The fact that it also was for not just for the big names, but the upcoming artists, I thought that was really nice,” Milo said.

“There’s the front-facing side of the music industry, but it exposed you to a lot of the sides of the music industry you don’t necessarily get to see or get exposed to on a day-to-day basis, so it just made you realize how broad the music industry can be and how many different things go into it, with talking to experts and seeing performances and then going into the bus and seeing the process of music being made, so it’s kind of cool to see a holistic approach to music,” said Lucia, a student at Duke Ellington School of Arts.

Jade Jacobs, a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Vocal Performance and Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT-Music) candidate, called the Lennon Bus studio session was “one of the coolest experiences I ever had – learned a lot!”

“It was awesome working with not only my Digital Media classmates but students from the Music program. Both departments should form a campus collaboration – the experience of creating a song, each of us throwing out ideas, then documenting it to eventually adding music and voices to it was amazing to see,” said Karen M. Woodbury, a senior Digital Media major at UDC who participated in the two-project on the bus.

“That bus could have rolled down the street on our vibes alone.  Thank you, Asha, for assisting me with lip-syncing my poem.  This experience has introduced me back to my musical instruments (cello and clarinet) and why I love music so much.  John Lennon’s spirit is happy, and I am thankful to Yoko Ono, Brian Rothchild and the entire John Lennon crew.  Not to mention, the UDC Digital Media and Music programs,” Woodbury said.

“The John Lennon Bus experience was cool. Creatively, it pushed me to just paint a picture and not look back and accept that this is what I created. The process has inspired me to be more involved and hands-on in more ways than one. It was so cool to see all of the gear on the bus obviously but the embodiment of the importance of the phrase ‘teamwork makes the dream work’ was real during this process,” said Ynomrah Hicks, a junior Music in Jazz Performance – Percussion.

“My experience working on the project on the John Lennon Educational tour bus was truly edifying and one of a kind. It was such an incredible experience working with my peers in both digital media and music for the two days we were there. We all supported each other throughout the process as we worked as a team and brought our own unique eye to the visual aspect of this project,” said senior Digital Media/Music major Asha Moore-Smith.

“The bus crew, Bryce and Jeff were also amazing to work with and encouraged us as we learned from them as well. As the song was being created by the UDC music students, we as DIGM students were able to conceptualize what the music video should look like in terms of location, styling, and editing in preparation for filming the next day,” Moore-Smith said.

“Watching my peers create and write music was also incredible to witness. I feel like I got to know them on a deeper level as the talented artists that they are outside of the classroom setting. They really took charge and wrote/recorded a beautiful song in no time. I’m very happy the John Lennon Educational Tour bus came to our HBCU. It’s not every day that we have the opportunity to record and direct/edit a music video in that kind of state-of-the-art studio. I am also grateful that we had the opportunity to learn and lend our skills to a project that I trust people will enjoy and will hopefully be inspired by,” Moore-Smith added.

“Because I study both music and digital media, this experience motivated me to practice my instruments more. I am also motivated to lean more into my interest in film/video production and creative directing while also building up my editing skills to reach a more advanced level by using applications such as Final Cut Pro for video, and Magix,” Moore-Smith said.