Could you tell us about what exactly Believe in Music does?
We provide a safe space for students in Baltimore to express their true inner voice through songwriting. We utilize the latest in production technology to teach young people how to write their own songs, record and edit original music, and market themselves as artists. Our ultimate goal is for our students to create opportunities for themselves to succeed through music, inspire their peers, and advocate for their community while doing so.
How did you transition for life on the road with The Bridge to more of a mentor and instructor role on a daily basis?
I was extremely motivated by internal factors; touring with a band can be a pretty selfish lifestyle. I knew I had to change my game up and the only way I’d feel good about the way I was living my life would be to make it my mission to help others around me. Living in Baltimore, I could see a great need for the youth of the city to learn about the arts. I wanted to make sure that young people could feel all the positive benefits that I felt from creating and playing music.
What is the typical day to day like for the Believe in Music Summer program?
During the summer, we teach 60 kids per day. Students first come in every day for class and watch a “Video of the Day,” chosen by one of their teachers. We take this opportunity to make connections between music they listen to and complex concepts of musical theory, or expose them to a genre they may not have heard before. Students then break off into groups and work together to write original songs. The small groups rotate so each individual may interact with one another to create music. We hope to have full portfolios for each student at the end of the summer, and they will each go home with a CD of the tracks they wrote.
Who has been your most improved student?
It’s hard to narrow down to one student. We have seen so many young people improve over the course of participating in the program. My favorite thing to see develop for these kids is the degree of family involvement and enthusiasm for what they’re doing. Their parents are thrilled to see the progress the students make and encourage their success.
How has music directly impacted the lives of the students you work with?
Music has a direct impact on so many of these students because it provides endless opportunities they might not otherwise have access to. Learning about music gets them excited about learning overall, and I’ve seen music instill discipline in these kids. They have gotten the chance to make music with professionals in Baltimore and attend live performances, and these experiences have changed some of our students’ lives. They see first hand that they can overcome challenges and be successful if they work hard at developing their artistic talent.
What have your students taught YOU about yourself and music?
My students taught me about a new generation of young hip hop artists who are creating really impressive music. I hadn’t listened to hip hop in years and thought the genre was dead. The students also showed me truly how divided the music scene in Baltimore is today. It was obvious to me how rarely the two sides interacted with each other, and it became a personal mission of mine to unify the Baltimore music community.