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Jennifer Russo

Music education students at Subcat

This month, area high school students will have the opportunity to record professional-quality tracks with nationally-known recording artists Sophistafunk. The free, two-week summer camp, hosted at Subcat studios in downtown Syracuse’s Armory Square, brings youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) such as Down Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder together with music education graduate students to collaboratively operate a recording studio.

The Inclusive Music Recording Studio was developed by John Coggiola, dual associate professor music education in the College of Visual and Performing Arts and the School of Education, and James Abbott, professor of practice in music and entertainment industries in the College of Visual and Performing Arts, and is made possible by a grant from the University’s Lawrence B. Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education.

The Inclusive Music Recording Studio benefits both the graduate students and the campers. Music education graduate students further their experiences working with students with IDD, gaining new perspectives on education and inclusion as well as hands-on training working with state-of-the-art sound recording equipment. The campers get the experience of working together to achieve project-oriented goals, learning new skills and engaging in a work environment that can prepare them for future employment.

Abbott, the parent of a child with a disability, says he witnessed his son’s exclusion from music classes in a public school and decided to create opportunities for students with IDD to have a successful experience with music and community. “The overarching goal of the program has always been to give our campers a space to be who they are and learn in a fun environment,” he says. “When [the students] realize that they can master professional recording equipment, run cables, place mics in a way that produces a great recording by a popular band … there’s nothing like it.”

The camp also provides unique learning opportunities and challenges for music education graduate students, says Coggiola. “My students are asked to create a curriculum for the camp—to recreate a process they are well versed in producing within traditional music classrooms, but now in a recording studio to teach kids all the aspects of working and performing commercial music.”

The Inclusive Music Recording Studio runs from Aug. 1-12 at Subcat studios and culminates with a recording session with Sophistafunk. In addition to music education students and high school students, the camp is open to post-graduate music teachers through University College.