thoughts on music, design and literature

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Nice Story and a GREAT Cover!

Got this from a music teacher in Montreal. A nice story! Apparently his college-aged music students are required to do a recording project for their degree, but rather than doing individual projects, they all decided to pool their time and resources to do a cover of Baba Yetu.

And they did a great job with the recording as well! My friend thought it was a new version that *I* did.

Here's what he wrote:

Good evening Mr.Tin

My name is Alain T______, and i am a music teacher in a college in the region of Montreal, Canada. The level of our music program stands between high school and university, the aim of our 3 years program is to prepare students for the pop and jazz music industry.

I don’t want to describe the whole program here but, one of the main course is called ‘’Studio Musician’’ it is a 4 hours weekly class, where the 3rd year students learn to work in a studio environment. There are 3 different groups. In the first term (September) we do a lot of pop, rock, jazz and instrumentals. In the second term (January), each student as to present a complete project. They are responsible of the direction, writing charts etc etc. It could be a cover song or an original, it’s up to them to decide. Since they are graduating after this term, we strongly suggest to them the fact that they should use this opportunity to realise a demo for themselves, putting them on the ‘’spot’’.

Here is in an as brief as I can put it, a wonderful and uplifting story I went thru… I want to talk to you about my beautiful students, most of them aged between 18 and 22 years old.

At the end of the fall term, in December right before chrismas, one of my student sent an eMail to all of her ‘’3rd year graduating fellow students’’. Saying to them with an open heart, how much she appreciated them, loved them, how much she felt good among them, and that she was realising that the next term would be the last they spend together. She told them that they were a family, and she wished them the best for the next term.

In the following 3 weeks, during the holydays none less than 44 eMails from all of them flourished in my Mail box. All of them expressing with open heart the same love and feelings.

As the new term (their last) was starting, looking at my students, I noticed that I wasn’t dealing with 23 individuals anymore, I was dealing with one entity, one group, one spirit. It was so beautiful but check this…

The same student that started the eMail chain, Jessica C_________, asked me to do a ‘’special’’ project, different, a demo that would not necessary put her saxophonist skills in ‘’front’’. And she talked to me about Baba Yetu. I told her that it was crazy because of the implication, and we would need more than the 4 hours given to each of them to do their project. She told me that most of the people in the group and even students from the 2nd year group are wiling to do it. So she sent the piece to me and listened to it once, twice, maybe 20 times. And I felt the spirit of the holyday’s eMail coming thru. I spoke to our wonderful studio technician Jean R________, and we realised that it would be a long journey, but worthed. We decided to do it for them. We started to sketch out how we would do it.

They’ve practice every week, as a whole, section by section, and we started to record. Some takes in hallways in the college for the natural reverbs, and people passing by listened. We recorded the choir as a group, in sections, changing voices within sections etc etc. Meanwhile 2 of our 2nd years keyboardists started to play and program the orchestral parts, mainly strings and french horns, and one drummer played and programmed all the percs parts. When the orchestral parts were recorded, we did the final voices tracks, again in group, section etc. I think there are over 157 tracks all together. The whole experience was absolutely extraordinary, it gave all of them the boost they needed to go through the final weeks of this term. Meanwhile our technician was editing and mixing it all with Jessica’s and my input on the whole thing.

I can’t tell you how much everybody was anxious to hear the final project. So my tech and I decided to make it worth, we would gather every body in the concert hall and we would listen to it on the P.A.

What I didn’t know is, all the people who heard us practice and record in hallways were asking questions ‘’What is that? When is that show? Where?’’ Monday the 17th of may I was looking for a time in the concert hall schedule to do it, no luck. Tried on Tuesday, found a 5 minutes spot that a teacher as given us between two exams, and booked it for the following day at 3:10 PM, we had 5 minutes…

The next day, around a quarter to 3, we were gathering in the hallway of the concert hall, all nervous, anxious and happy to finally hear IT ! Jessica asked me to say a word to the students before we play the final mix.

As we were waiting, more people started to show up, and more, and more… maintenance people, secretaries, directors, almost 300 persons showed up !!!!!!!!!!!!!! So I had to tell them what it was about and that we had only 5 minutes, at 3:10 the doors opened, we walked in, sat down, Jessica was nervous about how big it was, I went on the stage with her, and told the people the same story I writing to you now, left her alone there to do her thing, it was a great moment, same as her december’s eMail.

We sat and listened to the song, we enjoyed, and after there was a silence, then everybody applauded, we took more than 5 minutes. Almost everybody had tears in their eyes, they all knew what happened here today. We are Christians but, not especially religiously inclined here, but, in that winter term, the spirit came upon dozens of students, and on that Wednesday at 3:10, through these kids, it came upon hundreds of us. We all know these lyrics, in French it’s ‘’Notre Père’’ , on that day, everyone understood Swahili. And the music did it all.

I’ve heard lots of versions over the web, and I have to humbly be very proud to what they’ve accomplished, so here is the final result of our version of Baba Yetu. I also hope that there is no legal problem with this, we are not selling anything, we just want our friends and family to hear what happened to the ‘’Class of 2010’’. and by the same way, get your music to be know.

Thank you for writing this song, it touched hundreds, and changed dozens.


Alain T_____

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