Non-profit broadcasting network PBS has teamed up with Beat Making Lab for a new digital series consisting of weekly episodes documenting the unique music initiative bringing their small, portable music studios to youths around the world.
Beat Making Lab started out as an innovative course at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The course was created by professor and well-known DJ Stephen Levitin, also known as Apple Juice Kid, and Dr. Mark Katz, author of ‘Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip Hop DJ.’ Professor and hiphop artist/emcee Pierce Freelon joined Levitin and helped bring the course to a community setting. The course teaches ‘open source music production and entrepreneurship’ to young people.
A Beat Making Lab is a portable studio that fits in a backpack. It is designed to teach young people about songwriting, sampling, and creating compositions on a laptop. Levitin and Freelon hold labs or two-week sessions at local community organizations where they teach the youth how to create music and beats. The initiative aims to not only empower the youths and their community, but to also effectively bring technology into their lives. The young people who went through the labs are expected to carry it forward and teach others as well.
The group had their first international beat making lab in Goma in the Democratic Republic of Congo in June last year. They collaborated with Yole!Africa, a non-profit organization that provides arts programs to the youth. Aside from the Beat Making Lab in Goma, there are Beat Making Labs being developed in community centers at Panama, Senegal, Fiji, and, of course, Chapel Hill, USA.
Check out the first episode below.