Sunday, December 9, 2007

"8th graders learn about the music biz"

from - By Colneth Smiley Jr.

While most eighth-graders are just hanging out after school or avoiding weekend trouble, 14-year-old Ibrahim Wanu and his classmates are laying down music tracks in the studio and building business plans to market their new hip-hop/rock CD and collaborative project, "Citizen Schools General Eclectic Volume IV: The Recipe."

"When you hear about an after-school program you think it's corny, and friends will think it's a waste of time" said Wanu, who sacrifices his free time and Saturdays at the Citizen School's Summit Business program behind the John D. O'Bryant School in Roxbury. "But I'm learning business aspects of selling music and the power of a dollar."

From the chalkboard to the boardroom, students of the school's Eighth Grade Academy are taking lessons on business planning and development into the real world. With a dozen curriculum courses to choose from, including programs in political awareness, video-gamecreation, architecture, jewelry making and understanding climate change, theAcademy is an intensive program that prepares middle school students for high school and beyond.

"We give these kids exposure to such a wide variety of experiences, careers and opportunities that are right in their back yards," said Julia Sommer, the academy's director.

"The theme of our program is the idea of forming a bridge to the future. The students work on leadership skills, oral presentation skills, communication skills and learn how to present themselves professionally," Sommer added. "Everybody loves music, and we teach the students basic business concepts, like how to pool together resources, build a business plan, calculate break-even points and, finally, execute their plan," said Ben Maitland-Lewis, executive director of Sidehatch Entertainment Group, who's mentored the Citizen School students throughout the music CD project.

The students' CD will be presented to executives at Summit Partnership and in an effort to sell the hip-hop/rock album to raise money for the Citizen School Alumni Scholarship.

Tracks from the CD will be available on iTunes next month and can be purchased online through

"You can express yourself through the apprenticeship," said Cevon "DC" Edwards, an eighth-grader from Community Charter School of Cambridge involved in the CD project. "Being able to call something your own is the best part," he added. Cevon came up with "The Recipe" concept in the CD's title, an acronym that stands for "Remember Everyone Can Initiate Positive Education."

Wanu also dreams big and has aspirations of joining the business world. "Just put effort in everything you do and anything is possible. At the end of the day, when you got a better shot at a good education, you're gonna come out with the upper hand."

Photo by Mark Garfinkel

No comments: