Entering the Modesto Sound music recording studio at Gregori High School, it’s hard to imagine that students are working at such a young age in such a professional atmosphere. There is a recording booth, professional drums, enormous amplifiers and much more.
But equipment is only as good as the person using it, and the interns in this after-school program are talented, hard-working and dedicated.
The Modesto Sound program has been around since 2005, and has been based at Gregori since 2008. Students interested in recording and live performance learn different types of skills to help them prepare for music as a career or avocation.
Participants work with mentors on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m. They get hands-on experience with professional equipment and engineers.
Mark Oesau, engineer and president of the Modesto Sound board of directors, is one of the mentors. “Working with the students is great and really helps me understand what I’m teaching even better,” said Oesau. “Our interns are all great students who love to be involved in our program.”
Another mentor, Ashly Roberts, is a producer, singer-songwriter and future engineer. She like, Oesau, is passionate about the program and the students in it.
“(This is the) best grounding ever,” she said. “I tell them, I wish that someone had told me (about the program) when I was their age. They also teach me on so many levels, and I try my best to fill in the gaps with the rest of the lessons when I can.
“There’s a great excellence of energy here, very balanced, and that’s what happens naturally when you allow children to teach you, as well, in any field. They also keep the staff young; they say the funniest stuff.”
Oesau and Roberts say they’re both working not only to teach the interns techniques and skills, but also to help them become better individuals.
As for the interns, those asked said they’re learning a lot – and having a lot of fun doing it. “It is very cool learning all of the different techniques for editing and producing,” said Jordan Fry, a sophomore.
Senior Erika Brown says the Modesto Sound program teaches her “leadership skills, engineering, live sound and much more.”
“Being in the internship program has been like having a second family,” added junior Anthony Thompson. “Everyone here has always been so helpful, so open and honest. If something went wrong, then like a machine, we’d all work fast and efficiently at solving it. Even with live performances, there would always be two people per team.
“Having someone there has always been a plus at Modesto Sound. I have learned many things, one of which is how sound makes everything lighten up, why there are so many knobs, and what happens when a wave squishes together or spreads out. Thanks to this program, I’ve gained the knowledge to make a more soothing sound performing or recording with my instruments,” Thompson said.
The Modesto Sound experience is available to any teenager wanting to learn about music, recording and live sound. To apply for the internship program, go online at modestosound.org or call (209) 573-0533.
New interns are accepted every three months. Modesto Sound’s stated mission is to: “Empower youth to create music and artistic media through access to internships, industry experts, professional equipment, and to become mentors to other youth.”
Neha Gyan is a junior at Central Valley High School and a member of The Bee’s Teens in the Newsroom program.