Music producer returns to his high school to help students

A successful music producer partners with Microsoft to help kids learn about music and the music business.

ST. LOUIS, MO - On the last day of class at Lutheran North, it's the last thing you'd expect. Kids staying late even as their classmates start summer break.

"Does anyone understand music publishing?," the instructor asked.

North alumnus Ronnie Notch has come back to teach an after-school music class unlike any you've ever seen.

"It actually started in this hallway, I played trumpet while in high school," he told us.

Notch is an accomplished producer, collaborating on music that's made it onto the Billboard charts. He's also the owner of his own recording company.

In his younger years, Notch said he was naive about the music industry which led to people taking advantage of him.

"So I took time away," he said. "I wanted to learn what are the other parts of the business that I don't know and thinking if I'm not the only one who doesn't know this, we need to teach this."

That's why he and his wife started a project called Notes for Life, Art and Technology. Partnering with Microsoft, they've now helped thousands of students all over the country, write, record and produce music for free.

"You've got somebody who has lived it and done it and that resonates with students," explained Lutheran North Principal Tim Brackman.

Tosin Ogunjobi, 16, said music is a part of every aspect of his life.

"When I was in the eighth grade, I wanted to be a self-producer and I wanted to make my own beats and stuff," he said.

And in this class, you get both beats and bytes. Kids get to express themselves using modern technology. So, it's not just the kids in band that sign up.

"Then you'll get some of the other students that like coding and programming," Notch said.

Today's project for each team is to create original sports music for a company like Netflix.

"All of those shows and docu-series need music," Notch explained.

"So I think it needs to be intriguing because you need something to grasp the audience's attention," said 16-year-old Alexa Halliburton.

The teams find a rhythm between key strokes and the keyboard.

In the last decade or so, funds have been cut to many schools across the US and some have even dropped their music programs.

"There are studies that show that students that involve themselves in music actually excel further than students that don't," Notch said.

That's why he is on this musical mission that he believes teaches skills that apply in any field.

"I really hope they leave empowered," he said.

A program striking a chord with kids and giving new meaning to new age music.

"It's everything we try to do all day in the classroom right rolled into one," Brackman said.

© 2017 KSDK-TV


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