Austin music scene creatives transform education program for ‘virtual summer’


AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s summer, and some camps are looking a little bit different this year.

One, in particular, has been running for more than eight years, but will enter its ninth virtually.

“This is the very first time we’ve ever tried this,” Diana Burgess said. She is the outreach director for Mother Falcon Music Lab.

The music lab, a multimedia education program focusing on songwriting, performance and art, had to move its education program online. COVID-19 concerns were the culprit behind the change to virtual.

“We couldn’t have our normal summer camp. We usually meet at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School and we have this amazing facility, have a big group meeting in a room, and then eight to ten different rooms where each band gets to rehearse,” Burgess said. “St. Andrew’s, I think, very wisely chose to not have any programming this summer just for safety and to avoid any kind of complications, and we were totally on board with that.”

The music lab community, comprised of mostly born-in-Austin music scene creatives from acts such as Mother Falcon, Hikes and Marmalakes, anticipated the change and began planning months in advance. Burgess said the pandemic certainly changed everything, but presented new opportunities for the group to try a new curriculum in a whole new setting.

“120 kids over one summer … virtually meeting as bands is not really ideal, so the classes for this virtual summer are focused on different subjects. This year we’re able to teach classes we’ve always wanted to teach and classes that we’ve wanted to take.”

New classes cover such topics as:

  • Album art
  • Decolonizing the music industry
  • How to write a protest song
  • Music history
  • Music theory
  • Podcasting
  • And more

They’re able to delve into specifics rather than focus on group work. It’s a learning curve trying out webinar formats, online lectures, but “it’s been really interesting seeing how technology, like Zoom, is with live music,” Burgess said.

Overall, the same goal remains.

“[We want to] see them flourish on their own, keep creating music and be kind of that next generation of Austin,” Burgess said. “This camp came out of the same feeling we started our band with, where we’re inspired by classical music, inspired by those instruments, but we realized you can do so much more with your skills… Teaching kids to see no matter what instrument you play, no matter what skill level you’re at, you can still be creative…[and] discover your own creative voice.”

Classes run from July 6 to August 15. Prices range between $25 and $175. They’re also offering need-based scholarships. The online program serves kids, but also adults for the first time. You can learn more on their website, including a look at their course catalog and how to enroll.

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