The Monroe City R-1 Music Appreciation class recently produced and released a new album, called Volume 1. The students have been working for the past two school years creating the new album. The album, which released this past week, was created by several students in the class. Band Director Mr. Tim Clasby stated, “My music appreciation class has been hard at work this year crafting an album from the bottom up. We have completed the album and it was just released to Spotify. It will also release to Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube Music, and Pandora.”

The album project serves as a culmination of everything students learn in Mr. Clasby’s Music Appreciation class. The album name “Volume 1” was chosen because Mr. Clasby anticipates more albums in the future. The class is structured with two main units, a music history unit, and a music theory unit. The class starts with the history of American music, the development of the Blues in the farms and fields of the South, migrating North into the cities, evolving into the foundation of R&B, Rock and Hip Hop. The class discusses major artists from each decade, listen to examples, with the encouragement to facilitate personal exploration into the music of the decades.

Using the comprehensive knowledge of the arc of music history informs the musical ideas and concepts that the students bring to the album. Mr. Clasby said, “This first album release is the culmination of two years’ worth of work. Our original album release was going to be April 2020 but it was delayed because of the sudden school closure due to Covid-19.”

The second component of the course is music theory, this is a study of the structure of music and how it functions. This knowledge helps students skillfully craft engaging music that is aurally sensible with a structure like the songs heard on the radio.

Mr. Clasby explained, “A big philosophy of mine is that all of my classes should create and share their creations with the community in the world. This comes naturally in the band world; we proudly host our annual marching festival as an event the community looks forward to every year. But I had other classes to teach like music appreciation, and when I got here there was little to get excited for in this class.”

The MCR-1 School District is 1 to 1 on Chromebooks, so Mr. Clasby knew that the class could use technology without many hiccups. “We produced the album using a program called SoundTrap. It is a music production software with an incredible education interface that allows all of my students to work on their projects collaboratively in a cloud based software,” said Mr. Clasby. All of the students can access their projects through the internet so they don’t need to download hefty software to their computers. The class had access to 50 seats and each student had their own account. With this project, the students were able to practice in digital design through a program called Canva, developing the album cover.The music production software used gives students access to tens of thousands of sound files called loops. The students can use these loops and layer them with effects to create the tracks that would become the album. At first it was just a little class project, making songs using the free version of their software, but the project soon changed explained Mr. Clasby, stating, “When I listened to the tracks that the kids were producing, I knew this was what we would have to share with the world. I contacted some friends of mine who have dabbled in music production and I contacted a music distributer. After a couple weeks of negotiations, we had secured a copyright for the album, the album cover, and distributed the work to Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and more.”

Each track has one student taking lead in its development. I want to avoid releasing the names of students for specific tracks because it was such a collaborative effort. I even took lead on one song and inserted it into the album. It really came together quite nicely. It was wonderful to sit with the class and listen through the tracks and select and order. This will likely be a continuing thing each year for me. Be expecting our artist page to grow. Who knows, there may be a Grammy in our future.”

Students working on the album during the 2019-2020 school year were: Colten Barger, Jaylyn Countryman, Caden Creel, Bradley Donovan, Maxwell Hays, Ashlyn Higgins, Desteny Hutchinson, Dawson Karr, Maci Kendrick, Owen LaRue, Emily Leake, Benedict Lemongelli, Blaine Potter, Elizabeth Montgomery, Sara Nestel, Katelyn Pults, Loren Smith, Fabian Walls, Cearia Wardlow, Katie Wardlow, Rhett Wilper and Hunter Wilson.

Students working on the album during the 2020-2021 school year were: Reece Buhlig, Isabelle Clark, Waylon DeGrave, Ryan Hays, Joseph Kickman, Logan Mitchell, Grady Perry, Cassius Reimann, Tristin Sergerson, Aidan Oswald and Kana Winegarner.