Our Students Make Beautiful Music Together — Behind the PDC Building

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Sometimes living together in a close-knit community can be a taxing proposition, and students need to find ways to become rejuvenated and eager to move onto the next step in their educational path.

For quite a few of our Eagle Rockers, the small building nestled behind the Professional Development Center (PDC) is nothing short of a haven. It’s our one-room schoolhouse — a place for musicians to gravitate for the purpose of recording music

Surrounded by countless musical instruments, a small recording studio, computers filled with music software and a pair of talented instructors, our music department boasts significant opportunities and resources. And certainly not the least of these is our partnership with Berklee College of Music in Boston.

As part of the Berklee City Music Network (BCMN), Eagle Rock students have access to additional musical opportunities. BCMN is a nonprofit network dedicated to supporting underserved youth through contemporary music.

Isaac Leslie, our music instructional specialist, said that with Eagle Rock as its partner site, BCMN delivers the musical proficiency and financial resources needed for students to succeed at a prestigious institution like Berklee College of Music. He said the purpose is to bring these resources to students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend a school like Berklee.

The partnership includes two main assets: the PULSE music method and the City Music Summer Scholarship. The PULSE (Pre-University Learning System Experience) curriculum is the core of the partnership, according to Leslie. An online curriculum in music theory, musicianship skills, and ear training, the program is individualized and can accommodate different instruments.

This is a big help at Eagle Rock, where student musicians who are interested in going to college for music don’t necessarily have the musicianship skills — things like reading music notation — that are necessary to be admitted and to succeed at an institution like Berklee.

Through the City Music Summer Scholarship, two Eagle Rock students have the opportunity to attend a five-week summer program at the college in Boston. Students audition for those spots in the winter, and the recipients of the scholarship spend half of their summer trimester studying at Berklee.

Song Candea, who attended Berklee last summer, said the Eagle Rock experience was similar to being in a college for music. He said it forced him to be independent and to hold himself accountable in different ways. While he grew as a musician, he said the experience of working with other talented artists pushed him to grow personally.

Students who both complete the summer program and use the PULSE curriculum are eligible to compete for a full-tuition scholarship to attend Berklee upon graduation. Additionally, Eagle Rock students, faculty and graduates can take online Berklee College courses at a discount, and Berklee faculty have come to campus periodically to teach Explore Week classes.

Last year, BCMN presented six awards in three categories to partner schools during its Network Conference held in Memphis, Tenn. Eagle Rock took home two of these awards — the Outstanding Partnership Award and Emerging Leadership Award.

It’s just another benefit of Eagle Rock participating with one of the world’s most respected colleges of contemporary music.

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