They’re laying down tracks to success!
Red Hook kids are learning to become mini music moguls in summer lessons taught by a DJ and producer who said the program gives the youngsters a chance to develop skills they otherwise might not be able to.
“In a lot of ways production and deejaying are expensive, inaccessible hobbies,” said Izzy Ocampo, who performs as Stud1nt and is a member of Discwoman, a Brooklyn-based electronic music collective of female-identifying and genderqueer artists. “It’s about making something accessible, and empowering young people to be creative.”
The twice-a-week sessions for middle- and high-schoolers are organized by youth services group Red Hook Initiative and take place at Pioneer Works, a venue that hosts workshops, performances, and artist residencies.
Classes include lessons on the nuts and bolts of making electronic music — including tutorials on production software Ableton, which is used by pros and can cost as much as $749 — watching videos from genres such as jersey club and hip-hop, talking about musical likes and dislikes, and breaking into groups to write and edit.
Last week, the kids visited a record store on Van Brunt street, where they browsed the vinyl selection and picked out a favorite album to take home.
And sometimes the teacher even becomes the student, according to Ocampo, who said their pupils have educated them about the local music scene.
“They show me music that’s made in Red Hook by their friends,” they said. “They know so much, and I feel like I’m learning as much as they are.”
The program concludes this month with a party where the kids will play their creations for friends and family. And after that, the moguls-in-training can continue to perfect their skills on the computers at Pioneer Works, which are outfitted with the software Ocampo taught them how to use.
Students gave the class glowing reviews, with one teen saying she’s had a blast learning how to make music.
“It’s been fun and amazing,” said 14-year-old Odalys Perez. “The more music I learn, the more I know.”
The Columbia Street resident likes to sing said she eventually wants to make tunes using her own vocals and beats, and praised the opportunity to spend the summer learning from an established artist.
“It feels good to learn from Izzy because they are a DJ and it’s cool to learn from someone who deejays,” Perez said.
Teaching the class has been equally fulfilling, according to Ocampo, who said watching kids make music that pumps them up has been invigorating.
“It’s really rewarding to see young people make cool s— and be excited about a beat,” they said.