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New Classroom Beats

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By Jesy Odio '15

Published Jul 1, 2015 8:00 AM


This Bruin wants to modernize music education.

art

Photo: Naomi Harris.

Lawrence Grey M.Ed. ’13 thinks it’s high time for L.A. music students to start dancing to a different beat. After all, he says, methods of school music education have been largely unchanged for two centuries. Now he wants to carve a space for a modern take on music education.

When Grey set out to earn his M.Ed., he had no intention of becoming a teacher. But in order to launch his new model for music education, he knew he needed a degree in education. With strong support from the music production software tool Ableton Live, Grey has a vision of bringing electronic music education to all schools in California through his program, Young Producers Group (YPG). Creative Artists Agency has supported the YPG at Venice High School.

And, it turns out, his program is more affordable than the old-style classes: The budget for his entire program is equal to the cost of a single classical instrument. For the cost of a couple of orchestral instruments, Grey purchased five music production stations, complete with software, microphones, headphones and speakers.

“Currently, the music that [many of] the students like has no place in their schools,” says Grey. “And yet, the tools [to create it] are more widely available than at any time in recent history.”

art

Photo: Naomi Harris.

With this new approach, Grey is bringing technological literacy, audio production and creativity to the classrooms, along with his you-can-do-it mentality. A typical week for Grey includes driving from school to school around Los Angeles, from the Children’s Institute in Echo Park to Venice High, running workshops. His work extends beyond school hours, as he teaches young creative spirits to produce music in afterschool and summer programs.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Grey has been working with kids ever since he stopped being one himself. But it was when he was studying music in New York and working part-time at a nonprofit promoting alternatives to incarceration — where he wrote and produced songs with teens — that he found the vision for Young Producers Group. That experience shaped his idea of reinventing the formula for music classes, and he decided to try it in L.A.

“Everything is a challenge when you’re trying to start something new and breaking the status quo,” Grey says. But he has no intention of stopping. “There is no reason why this couldn’t be in all Los Angeles schools, from Malibu to Watts.”

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