“Our goal each month is to maximize JOY and minimize BS (busy stuff).”
Scott has taught creative and technical arts for more than 25 years, with a focus on songwriting and audio production. He supports students of all abilities to develop their creative voice and agency in a co-authored classroom learning community, inspired by Brian Eno’s “Scenius” or collective genius. He co-founded Advanced Media Entertainment Society, which helps build community between high school students and professional storytellers in the media arts.
What led you to become a teaching artist?
I did not have an academic path to explore and express my musical self in high school. I wanted to write my own songs, saying things in my own creative voice. When I began teaching, I started removing the barriers to making a creative arts class based on music.
I created the class.
I recruited a community advisory board to guide me, and found great resources at LittleKidsRock.org and MusicalFutures.org. I designed a course structure incorporating my training in music engineering and production, and pitched it to the school administration. They loved the idea!
I recruited students.
I alerted school counselors of the hands-on expressive arts class. They sought at-risk students who would benefit.
I got instruments into students’ hands at school and at home.
Many were donated by community members and myself. When COVID hit, many kids did not have instruments. So I purchased electric guitars, basses, keyboards, and drum sets to send home. An instrument coupled with an iRig device allowed students to connect and collaborate with their school Chromebook and Soundtrap.com.
I began helping them manage themselves and the creative process.
Engaging students in building their own personal and creative workflow is the heart of the course. By breaking down a large project into small doable tasks, students see that many things are attainable, reducing anxiety.
There is a lot of minutiae in developing each stage of a successful, repeatable, sustainable, creative workflow. We study the ingredients of quality workflow and practice our homemade versions, using the class as a model. At the end of each session, we review our process, make changes, set new goals for the next session, and begin again.
I believe quality comes from the process. Improve the process, and the quality of the final product will improve. I support students in developing their own passion, planning, practicing routines, pre-production, production, post-production, performance, and portfolio.
Describe a good teaching day:
Picture this… the teams/bands just finished the daily 90-second stand-up meeting to set goals for the period. They are now talking or moving around the room to get the materials they need. They know the routine. It is their class. These are their class rituals. It is their class culture. WE made it that way. Emphasis on the WE. Fortunately for me, this is most days.
Backstory: We work to build this culture and code of conduct collaboratively from the first day of the year. Furthermore, we re-visit our class norms and process every month and revise as needed.