Instead of disrupting class, A.J. Espino now has a constructive channel for his musical interests.
Like a dozen or so of his peers, A.J., 14, is taking part in an after-school music production course at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hall County.
“I used to get in trouble for beating on my desk in class, but now I have a positive way to make beats,” A.J. said.
As a part of the course — Project Generation D — students are learning all about digital arts, including what goes into creating a song.
“Digital arts is something that a lot of our kids are interested in, but they just didn’t know it,” said Derrick Caldwell, teen center unit director for the clubs. “We’ve been trying to get a program like this for a while. Our kids have these interests, but they don’t know what it takes to make them a reality. This is great because it gives them that knowledge and helps to bring out their God-given talents.”
Project Generation D is the brainchild of Reggie Perry Jr., a 2001 West Hall High School graduate.
“I’ve been working with kids for the last seven to eight years and making music for the last eight or nine years,” said Perry, a Flowery Branch resident. “So I finally decided to combine my two passions.”
He got the idea when making music in LA, but said he wanted to launch the project at home. Perry said the name of the program was inspired directly by the demographic it is meant for — 12- to 17-year-olds.
“This is the digital generation,” he said. “They’ve pretty much been exposed to technology since the day that they were born.”
Using specialized software, the Gainesville students have been learning how to create a song from scratch — using only a computer.
“I thought it was really interesting when we learned how you can make music without using any real instruments,” club member Gerardo Gonzalez, 14, said. “I knew that it could be done, but I didn’t know that I could do it myself.”
According to Perry and club administrators, one of the goals of the program is to expose participants to new ideas. Just a few weeks into the six-week course, it seems that goal has been reached.
“We’ve been learning about different instruments. One of the ones we learned about is the cymbals,” participant Kyree Willis, 12, said. “If it wasn’t for this program, I probably never would’ve thought about playing them. But now I’d like to try it.”