students on the sofa

Unleashing Creativity: A Journey into Sound Engineering at Atelier 21

A pupil making an EDM track

In the bustling corridors of Atelier 21, education isn’t just confined to textbooks and lectures —it’s a dynamic exploration of real-world concepts and hands-on experiences, perfectly aligned with the International Baccalaureate’s Middle Years Programme (MYP). Step into the vibrant world of Year 7-8 students as they embark on an electrifying lesson on sound engineering, blending technology with creativity to craft their own Electronic Dance Movement (EDM) tracks.

Settling quickly, the class focuses as students are asked to collectively recap the steps required to carry out their task: to create unique rhythms using samples recorded from everyday sounds around the school. Armed with laptops and a myriad of samples they have previously recorded, they load up their EDM projects and dive into the world of waveform software, learning to edit waveforms and create captivating rhythms — a perfect demonstration of the MYP’s emphasis on innovation and audience engagement.

With guidance from their teacher, students navigate the technicalities of sound engineering, inserting micro drum samplers and triggering samples with the keys on their computers. As they experiment with different sounds and techniques, they’re encouraged to consider the rhythm they want to create and layer multiple tracks to keep the music interesting, utilising the MYP approach to learning skills of selecting and using technology effectively and presenting information in a variety of formats and platforms.

Throughout the lesson, students work independently, troubleshooting technical issues and collaborating with peers to enhance their projects. Despite the potential for noise in a room filled with budding musicians, there’s a sense of calm and focus as students immerse themselves in the creative process, demonstrating their ability to work productively and effectively in a collaborative environment — an essential aspect of the MYP.

As the lesson progresses, students transition seamlessly between the learning mode and performance mode, exploring the connection between their creations and the real world – a core approach developed as part of the Atelier 21 learning model. With little attachment to the outcome, they’re immersed in the exploration and experimentation, embracing each step of the journey with enthusiasm — an embodiment of the MYP’s global context of Personal and Cultural Expression through Creativity.

At the end of the lesson, three students are invited to showcase their masterpieces on the DJ setup at the front of the class. From “The Drowning River” to the “Coffee Shop Special Blend,” each composition tells a unique story, reflecting the creativity and ingenuity of its creator and highlighting the diverse ways in which students express themselves — a core aspect of the MYP’s emphasis on personal and cultural expression.

Looking ahead, students will continue to refine their tracks and explore new avenues of sound engineering, further integrating the principles of the MYP into their learning journey. With upcoming lessons focused on sound recording and design, they’ll delve deeper into the science behind sound and even design their own portable sound shields. The depth the subject specialist teachers undertake when planning projects is illustrated as the students explore sound in their science lessons to develop their understanding further. This is a testament to Atelier 21’s commitment to holistic education and the development of well-rounded, innovative learners.