Student Projects (Fall 2007)

It’s that time of year again – another semester finished, and time to grade the final projects. This used to be a bittersweet thing, knowing that just as these students were getting to really understand how to use technology in musical ways, I had to pass them off to the rest of the faculty, and never get to teach them again. Now, though, I get to see them again their final year, when they take the Studio Production course. Instead of being wistful, I start to get excited about what these freshman are going to be capable of in 4 years.

So, here’s this year’s round of “Best Of”. I’m grading all day today, so I’ll keep adding to this post as I go along. Enjoy!

(As a reminder, I’m posting these here just as a “Hey, check out this cool stuff my students are doing,” not as a “Hey, all of my highly talented professional musician friends, please harshly critique these earnest attempts at doing what you do.”)

Intro to Music Tech

“100 Years”, programmed and recorded by Mason Schroder. Mason doesn’t play keyboards so, being stubborn, he inserted every single note in the piano part using the mouse and the matrix grid. Yup. That’s like rebuilding the bay bridge using legos.


“Drowning in Shallow Love”, by Kenton Fukuda. This is an arrangement of a song performed by his band Twentyfour64. Check the vocals; that kid has pipes.

Production Techniques

This is the class where the students do absolutely everything – songwriting, arranging, contracting musicians, engineering the session, mixdown, the whole kit. Usually, it involves quite a bit of innovation on their part to get the whole thing done with limited studio resources and no money. This semester was the best to day, in terms of overall quality of the final product. Here are the standouts:

“Tiny Soldiers” by the production team RiCE/BeANS, written by Scott Ryan.


“Aunque Gigantes” by the team RiCE/BeANS, arranged and produced by Alejandro Martinez, who might be one of the best students I’ve ever had. Smart, humble, eager, and talented. May his tribe increase.


“Mud In My Eyes” by Production Team 2 (they didn’t come up with a fancy name). This is almost entirely the work of Robbie DeLong (who also sings on it). He spent this last summer interning with Chris Steffen out at Eldorado.


17 thoughts on “Student Projects (Fall 2007)

  1. Faith Kathleen

    Oh my lord….he entered all of those by hand?? Nice work, Mason.

    I like seeing all the Freshman in the midi lab working on their projects…I assure them that Professor Awesome is not as scary as he seems and that Logic Pro will not really ruin their lives…

    Well Ok that might be a lie. Professor Awesome is pretty darn scary…but at least they calm down long enough to play in a bass line.

    Also, I love that the comment box has spell check. Spell check help student not look dumb in front of teacher. Sweet.

  2. Sharolyn

    We’ll do your grades. They both get an A.

    Is anyone else disturbed that Michael Bolton’s face is on Addison Road?

  3. Chris

    You’re right on that second one, that kid DOES have pipes.

    Now Mike, make sure that your computer doesn’t crap out on you again this year. Losing six different versions of “Bubbly” would be a tragedy.

    I would probably shed a sarcastic tear.

  4. michael lee Post author

    [quote comment="140284"]We’ll do your grades. They both get an A.[/quote]

    Sweet! Thanks! Now would you mind giving me a hand with some of these 30 page thesis papers? I have like 20 of them to grade.

  5. Cerise

    Yeah, Mike, we know. Your status in Facebook pretty much sums it all up. For you non-Facebookers: “Michael Lee
    is grading in his office, and nobody has brought him any christmas cookies, so he’s in a pretty bad mood. And your project is probably up next. Just saying ….”

    Don’t worry, Faith Kathleen, as long as you keep calling him Professor Awesome he’ll never think you’re dumb.

  6. Sharolyn

    [quote comment="140286"]

    Sweet! Thanks! Now would you mind giving me a hand with some of these 30 page thesis papers? I have like 20 of them to grade.[/quote]

    Consider it done – all As. They’re happy… you’re happy… Merry Christmas to all!

  7. michael lee Post author

    They’re happy now … but not so much when they get to grad school, and realize that they don’t know how to write worth a damn. Then, they curse my name, and all my ilk along with me.

    I hate grading, but I feel like each semester, if I keep getting better at critiquing their work in meaningful ways, a culture of expectations builds up around the class. Future students spend more time on the front end planning for the papers, and knowing that they have to deliver high-quality work in order to pass the course. Then, those that do pass know that it actually means something.

    There are a few profs at APU who have built that culture of expectation into their courses, and as a result, students in those classes function at a very high level. I’m sure it was a bitch for them the first few years, but the payoff now makes it worthwhile, to hold out for a higher standard. I’ve already got something like that going in my Intro to Music Tech course (the students pass rumors and myths down to all the incoming freshmen). I really, really want that culture to become part of the Music and Ethics course, even though it means much more work for me.

    Hot damn! When did I start to sound like, all growed up and whatnot? Sheesh.

  8. Chad

    Dear Students of Professor Awesome:

    I want you to all know that next semester, we’re available (for a moderate fee) to sub out your projects. That way, you’ll understand what the real world can be like, where you pay money for other people to make you look brilliant.

  9. Stick

    Like I probably said last year, this stuff utterly and completely smokes what I was doing at this point in my life.

    Pipes indeed. Please don’t tell me he wants to be a banker.

  10. Stick


    You taught them this stuff?

    Just kidding… all three are really nice. The sound/groove/vibe of the third is quickly approaching pro record making. Very well done.

  11. michael lee Post author

    I taught them very little. This class is the capstone of things they’ve been learning along the way. More than anything else, I just give them some ideas about process, how to organize a project this large.

Comments are closed.