Homer Alaska - Arts

Story last updated at 2:54 PM on Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Youth on Record


Hannah Bouman "First song"

Emmit Meyers "Classical Arrangement"

Jessica Bouman "CannonD-ub-Arrange


Photoby Shannon Reid

Cody Davidson, standing at right, talks about performing live during a recent Youth on Record Alaska session.

Don't be fooled by the silence during the weekly Youth on Record Alaska class. Under each set of student headphones a blasting musical masterpiece is being created.

Cody Davidson, creator of Youth on Record Alaska, passionate musician and father of three, meets with his high school-aged students every Thursday to teach the creative and practical aspects of modern digital music production.

The classes are all about collaboration, creation, encouragement and exploration.

Each class includes an interactive group learning session, allotted time for individual musical experimentation, and ends with a supportive show-and-tell of each student's newest creations.

From classical symphony compositions to modern dubstep originals, students are given tools, guidance and encouragement to explore the endless possibilities of industry-standard digital music production. Davidson tailors the hour lessons to the interests and capabilities of each pupil.

In collaboration with South Peninsula Haven House, volunteer-run Youth on Record Alaska seeks to incorporate healthy relationship ideals, as well as domestic violence prevention and intervention through the healthy influence and outlet of creative expression through music.

The original Youth on Record blossomed in Denver in 2009 through the joint efforts of Davidson and his friends, Aron Makaruk and Nathan Schmit. Several years later and upon pre-arrangement, Davidson launched the pilot program of the independent Youth on Record Alaska in Homer on May 17.

"My dream from the beginning, as understood by everyone down there, was to bring it up here," he said.

A grant from the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence bought all the pilot program equipment necessary "for each student to have a professional studio of their own," said Davidson. The equipment includes six MacBook computers with Digital Audio Workstation programs, four keyboards, headphones, microphones, audio boxes and more.

"It's a better studio than the Beatles had, and it's just with a MacBook," said Davidson.

Rachel Romberg, Haven House Shelter coordinator, described Haven House involvement as "integrating ideas without being preachy," and thinks a main element in the program is providing adult role models. She also shared the future goal of having the students work together to create a song that demonstrates their vision of what a healthy relationship is.

In the future Davidson hopes to expand the Youth on Record Alaska program throughout the state. He feels particularly inclined to reach out to remote villages. A more immediate goal is to collect funding to purchase more equipment and involve more kids. Although Davidson is expecting growth, he still wants the original purpose of the program to remain a priority.

"The bottom motivation behind this is to be a positive impact, not to grow an empire," he said.

Davidson is working on training his students to become teachers themselves and learn how to collaborate together.

"I am going to feel successful when a student is running a class without me being there," said Davidson.

Jessica Bouman, a student and niece of Davidson, said her confidence is building since the original pilot program.

"I've gotten a lot more comfortable with singing and showing my music," said Bouman, "(Davidson) likes to make sure everybody plays their music at least once during the class to give other students ideas. It really builds your confidence and everybody is giving you positive feedback."

She also is grateful to her uncle for providing an outlet for her interest in music.

"I've always loved music. I love to sing and play any instrument I can get my hands on. I could see myself pursuing music and I think Cody has been a big inspiration for me," she said.

Through the available combinations of live recording and computer-produced instruments, a wide variety of music is produced during each class.

"If you want to be a whole symphony you can be," said Davidson. "You wouldn't believe even on day one what they come up with."

Davidson played several original Youth on Record Alaska student collaborated tracks at this year's Concert on the Lawn. He said their style contrasted to the other performers and while the younger generation was quick to get up and dance, a majority of the older individuals looked "surprised."

"My last words (on the stage) were, 'That might have been a bit much for some of you, but your kids loved it,'" he said.

Free Youth on Record Alaska classes are held at 3:30 p.m. every Thursday in the lower level of the Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic outreach building on Nielsen Circle. While classes have continued during the summer, Davidson expects an eight- to 10-week program to start during the high school semester.

Cody Davidson can be reached by phone at 299-4472, or by email, cody@youthonrecord.org. To donate to Youth on Record Alaska contact Haven House at 235-7712.

Shannon Reid is a recent Connections Homeschool Program graduate.