After almost two years of applying for grants, obtaining state-of-the-art hardware and installation, the Holliston High School music department is pleased to announce that the new music lab is now almost ready to take on the content of the classes that it could only dream of sharing with its students.
According to choral director Mr. Stuart Britton, before this idea arose there was “no software that could be used for a good quality music class” in the music lab. With out of date hardware and a slow connection, even the 2006-2007 Finale Software that was the predominant choice of the old computers was too much for the computers to keep up with. “We need a lab that gives students access to the tools that they need,” Mr. Britton said.
“We had to gut the old lab and start from scratch,” Mr. Britton said. Quite literally. The old lab was completely transformed- from desks to electric keyboards to hardware. There were a lot of questions that arose during this time. Mac or PC? Desktop or laptops? What keyboards should be purchased? After further speculation, it was decided that 15 desktop Macs should be purchased, with a Yamaha electric piano at each. With the hardware installed, Mr. Britton said that “there should be enough money to get all the rest of the software and equipment by next year” and “the freshmen of this year should see the full, completed lab up and running by their senior year.”
When it came to budgeting, Ms. Laura Bilodeau explained that while fundraising, the team of the music department, the Holliston Music and Parent Association (HMAPA) and former Holliston students Ned Emerson and Wesley Knapp “spent small chunks of money at a time in different areas.” Ms. Bilodeau, having personal experience in recording studios out in LA, had heavy influence in the choice of hardware that could handle the software that was desired.
“This lab would be a great tool for teaching.” Ms. Bilodeau said. Both teachers have a common goal for this lab, and that is the hope of an increase in popularity in music classes, and many new classes that can finally be taught with the updated technology- such as Intro to Music Technology, Recording Techniques, and Sampling and Looping.
Behind the scenes, Ms. Leslie Dooley, the Music Project Technology Coordinator of the Holliston Music and Parents Association, said that this is “the biggest project the HMAPA has ever done.” Fundraising has included 2 mattress sales, 2 benefit concerts, a kids’ night out, and many generous local, individual and business donations from foundations like the Staples Foundation, TD Bank, through the TD Charitable Foundation, and the Juilet Judge Twomey Memorial Trust Fund. Extra funds have come from numerous donations from “parents of students who are graduating, who even though will not be able to use the lab, really care about the music program.” $36,000 has been raised so far to benefit lab progress. “Early on, we applied for a lot of grants,” Ms. Dooley said, “and we just got rejection after rejection after rejection.” Despite this, after finally getting a grant and some significant family donations, the project took off.
“It is really important to get kids interested in music who were not already and to get more kids, in general, involved in the music program.” Ms. Dooley said. “As a music teacher, I’ve been aware of these computer labs and all the different things kids can do with them, and how much of it is used in today’s music – not just popular music of today”.