5 takeaways from GRAMMY In The Schools Fest 2022


The silver lining of two years of COVID-adjusted learning is that education via the internet has become more accessible than ever. Last year, the first-ever GRAMMY In The Schools Fest (GITS) panels were broadcast live to ensure students across the country had the opportunity to connect with leaders in the music industry and improve their arts education in the comfort of their own homes.

This year, that same energy has been preserved, bringing together sound engineers, songwriters, performers and producers with students, educators and music enthusiasts via virtual panels moderated by the Vice President of Education for GRAMMY In The Schools, David R. Sears.

The second annual online festival, presented by MusicPower, took place over several days before Sunday’s 64th GRAMMY Awards. Thousands of students, music lovers and teachers attended sessions on improving recital and rehearsal skills, went behind the scenes to learn about the music industry and attended to exclusive musical performances.

Here are five takeaways from GITS. To watch any of these panels and more, just click here.

“Your core technique is absolutely important…now you need to move on to passion and purpose.” – Dr. Jeffrey Redding

The Alexandria City High School Choral Clinic in Alexandria, Virginia with Music Educator Award winner Dr. Jeffery Redding and Alexandria Choir Director Theodore Thorpe III

This panel began with a moving behind-the-scenes look at students practicing a performance of Yoko Ono‘s “Who saw the wind?” Although the choir was entirely masked, the haunting, angelic notes pierced the air of the classroom with an ethereal sound. Thorpe sat at the piano while Redding pointed out the linguistic changes needed to hit the right notes, instructing students to adjust their soft palette formation to change the overall pitch.

Mastering this technique is key to being able to fuse choral music with your own passion and energy, Dr. Redding said, encouraging students to “go through the vowels!” Mr Thorpe then addressed how choral culture has changed since the pandemic, stating that 70% of the school’s choir is new – a direct result of a COVID-influenced world where students seek collaborative environments and creative to cope with the rapidly changing world around them.

“Rebuilding this culture takes a lot of passion and grace,” Thorpe said, praising the students for their dedication. “You fell in love with music when you were a kid,” Dr Redding added. “Now give yourself permission to trust the technique in order to build this community that you passionately want.”

“Have fun and be happy with who you are.” – Cimafunk

Artist session with Afro-Cuban funk artist Cimafunk

Listening to Cuba, singer Cimafunk spoke with GRAMMY Museum Coordinator Schyler O’Neal about being a songwriter and musician. Cimafunk explained how linguistics and language play an important role in the history of music, especially when it comes to the music of the Afro-Cuban diaspora.

“Due to closed borders, Cuban music is very much its own sound, but funk and Afro-Cuban music are very interconnected. The slave trade between New Orleans and Cuba is the cause of this – the music was a language for those who couldn’t read or write otherwise,” said the singer, who composed his first song at age 13. The Cuban influence is found in the music of Dizzy Gillespie, in the conga of Marvin Gayeand the grooves of James Brown and Tito Puente. What unites them all, Cimafunk said, is the thrill that comes from having fun.

Cimafunk, named by Billboard as one of the “Top 10 Latin Artists to Watch,” explained that he started writing music on the guitar, but has been composing on the computer and using MIDI instruments since 2019. Grinning from ear to ear, Cimafunk said he was just as happy playing in his home studio as he takes his show on the road, where he says he ends up spending more time with his bandmates than with his own family.

“Spending time with your instrument is important, but you should spend so much time with it that it’s in your bones.” – Christine Meisenhelter

Prepare to perform with minimal rehearsal time panel ft. GRAMMY In The Schools Alumni Band

The last day of GITS was a busy day for the GRAMMY In The Schools Alumni Band. Participating in a 45-minute panel to discuss how to prepare for a performance with minimal rehearsal time was not the only thing on the agenda for the ensemble of young working musicians and students (all alumni of the program) – they had a live performance on the Vegas strip later that night.

Jason Goldman, Chair of Jazz Studies at the University of Southern California Thornton, took the group aside to answer questions from a curious audience who wondered how a musician can prepare for a big show with extremely limited time.

Christine Meisenhelter – a bassist, vocalist, guitarist and songwriter who also performs under the moniker Mistina – was the first to take the mic, noting that her instruments are in her “bones” and that the practice goes beyond sheet music. Meisenhelter said she eased the pressure of limited practice time by immediately incorporating the song into her playlist during her workouts and other daily routines.

Asked how she incorporates her saxophone into a pop-rock song, like the one the band was to perform that night, Veronique Leahy supported Meisenhelter’s sentiments. Leahy has perhaps the funniest way to prep: the multi-wind instrument player (who’s currently enrolled in Harvard and Berklee’s dual degree program) simply puts on a recording of the song, plays it, and pretends she’s is part of the band as they perform a live show.

“Ask yourself if you would do it for free. Would you trade your social life and time to do this? -Manny Marroquin

The Artistry And Musicianship In Audio Engineering panel with Manny Marroquin

I Multi-GRAMMY award-winning sound engineer Manny Marroquin worked with Alicia Keys, john legend and many others, but almost followed a different life path.

Marroquin started playing the drums when he was 9 years old, around the time he arrived in the United States from Guatemala (where Marroquin says life consists of two things: “football and music”). But when he auditioned for the drum program at Hamilton Performing Arts High School in Los Angeles in ninth grade, drummer Abe Laboriel, Jr. (who worked with Paul McCartney for more than 20 years) stole the show. . When Marroquin was not accepted into the drum program, he joined the electronic music track instead.

“Thank goodness Abe killed the drums for me because I discovered the art of sequencing, painting and mixing [music] like an art form,” Marroquin said with a laugh. The engineer admits he can spend days on a song and feels that time management is very crucial to what sound engineers do (especially to Marroquin, who runs a restaurant next door) He uses timers to carve out some quality time, advice he got from a legendary songwriter baby face.

“Just make sure that whatever path you take, make sure you want to be in this room for the right reasons. If you’re in the room because you want to meet Post Malone, you’re not going there. You should want to be in the room for the bigger aspects of the art form and be passionate about it,” Marroquin advised.

“Songwriting is like archeology and every day you just pull out a shovel and start digging.” -Jon Foreman

Family dynamics are complicated and some are sadly made more difficult in musical families – just look at Noel and Liam Gallagher of Oasis. Fortunately for Jon and Tim Foreman, the two brothers who are at the forefront of the rock band PASS AT THE FOOTcollaborating and creating harmonies together are some of the things they enjoy most in life.

At an artist session where the band performed live for students, Tim explained how, last year, Jon came across one of their lo-fi demo songs recorded in 2004 on Garage band. “We rediscovered an old song and repurposed it into a new one,” he said before playing a bit of the track for young audiences.

Jon said he felt there was a discipline and an art to songwriting, and challenged up-and-coming songwriters to spend 30 minutes a day writing. “At the end of each day, put it in your voice memo and at the end of the month, listen objectively to what you’ve found.”

As a young student with a stuttering problem, Jon said singing helped him overcome his inability to communicate about religion, girls and more. He still believes that music is the clearest form of communication you can find.

The 2022 GRAMMYs were a memorable return to an in-person ceremony. But he hasn’t forgotten the lessons of the past year.


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