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The John Lennon Education Tour Bus

Next Destination: Sedgefield Middle School

Charlotte, NC

 

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Imagine a studio on wheels

Dan Yates, Leader-Post

It’s definitely not the bus depicted in the 1967 Beatles film The Magical Mystery Tour. In fact, it’s probably a whole lot cooler.

The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus rolled into Regina on Monday. The blue and white bus, adorned with a sketch of Lennon’s face, is equipped with a fully functioning, state-of-the-art recording studio. It travels across the United States and Canada giving students the opportunity to work with professional producers and engineers as they write and record songs.

“It’s a really good experience to be able to work with fellow musicians who have the same drive as I do,” said 14-year-old Andre Mejia of Miller Comprehensive High School.

Mejia was joined by Averi MacDonald, Dan Shier, and Jerry Shen from Campbell Collegiate and Nolan McNaughton from Archbishop M.C. O’Neill High School were selected to participate in the day’s activities. The five students were brought together and by day’s end had written and recorded a song and shot a music video.

“I was completely amazed,” said 16-year-old Averi MacDonald. “It seems like such an amazing feat to just start from absolutely nothing.”
However, once they got going, the writing and recording process was easy. According to MacDonald, the five students got together and started jamming. Shortly thereafter, they had the foundations for a song.

“The hardest part for me was coming up with lyrics because they sort of left that for me to do,” said MacDonald, who sang on the track.
The opportunity to record on the bus, with professional engineers and producers, provides students with a prime opportunity to learn about the music industry.

“(It’s helped me) become a better musician already. Just being able to work with (them) and listen and play and learn a little bit about recording and mastering and all that type of stuff,” said Mejia.
For the students, the bus’ two touring producers and engineers are not only technical wizards but teachers as well.

“They are encouraged to ask questions and we try to explain different facets of different things here and there so that the students are understanding what exactly is going on beginning to end so that they can learn the process hands on,” said Jesse Jensema, a producer-engineer with the touring bus.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than working with a bunch of students who have possibly never recorded before and then seeing the look and expressions on their faces once they leave the bus at the end of the day.”
Both Mejia and MacDonald had high praise for the day and said it had both of them considering future careers in music. And as for the finished product? Everyone involved was more than satisfied.

“(It) sounds great. When I was laying down the vocal tracks it was, obviously, coming through my headphones I was amazed—it sounds so professional,” said MacDonald.
Jensema, however, wouldn’t comment on the pedigree of Regina’s budding musicians.

“It’s all subjective. When we bring different people together, magic always happens. And that’s what it’s really all about,” said Jensema.

It’s a really good experience to be able to work with fellow musicians who have the same drive as I do

- 14-year-old Andre Mejia

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Video aboard the Bus

The increasing accessibility of digital technology has led to an amazing expansion of opportunity in the art of digital storytelling. The John Lennon Educational Tour Bus has been at the forefront of this new media explosion, having produced daily video projects with students since January of 2001. The Lennon Bus puts state-of-the-art digital video equipment into the hands of workshop participants and teaches the entire digital workflow from storyboarding to web publication and DVD burning. Students leave the experience having shot, chopped, scored, and (most importantly) finished an entire digital video production. Using the latest cameras and professional hardware/software solutions including Avid Media Composer and Pro Tools, participants are exposed to the exciting world of digital videography and learn hot techniques of the trade. The accessibility of professional-quality technology is making it possible for millions of new voices to be heard and the John Lennon Bus is putting these tools into the hands of tomorrow's great digital producers. Subscribe to our Youtube channel so you never miss any of the amazing videos produced on the Lennon Bus.