Scotty likes to describe the current studio setup at Madison Meadow Music as “the Starship Enterprise of Music.” Much more than just a collection of keyboards and guitars, the space has developed into a veritable amusement park of different musical toys and tools, traditional and modern, by which students are invited to hop around from one station to another at will as they follow their eclectic interest and spontaneous creative ideas.
The centerpiece of the room is Scotty’s 1937 Baldwin grand piano, which he inherited from his dear Aunt Lois, one of his life’s most significant musical influences and the inspiration for the studio’s “Lois M. Hackney Music Scholarship.” She was a music teacher for her entire working life and would be overjoyed to witness her cherished piano’s role in opening up the world of music to the next generation.
As we weave together all the various electronic devices and computer applications to create an ever more powerful and efficient workflow of song creation and recording, one element stands out as the most amazing piece of software available today, Ableton Live. Though it may appear a little convoluted to the untrained eye at first glance, the flexibility and utility it offers to musicians of any level or interest is unprecedented. Just barely scratching its surface allows for an amazing way to build up songs and grooves from scratch, track by track. Even more usefully, the program offers an ability to quickly create “practice tracks” that have already proven revolutionary for those students needing something a little more fun and motivating than sitting at home with just the notebooks and metronome.
Tying it all together for the classes, bands and other groups enjoying the “Madison Meadow Experience” is the studio’s “smartboard.” The original was a second-hand acquisition from a student’s parent who was also a professional educator, and it could be understood as a wall-sized USB tablet functioning simultaneously as the projector screen and the interactive desktop for the studio’s central computer. It has since been upgraded to the top-of-the-line model in the EPSON “BrightLink” series of interactive projectors, which offer the same convenience but without the USB-connected screen (all the motions and screen sections are now tracked in the projector itself!). The features of the “smartboard” have been a real game-changer in the whole approach to music education here at Madison Meadow Music, and it is one of the most powerful ways we are able to reach more and more people at once as we help them along their way on the “fast track to fun!”