Hundreds of Southland college and university musicians gathered last Thursday night at The Recording Academy in Santa Monica, hoping to establish contacts with professional and experienced artists who work in the music industry.
The event, “Back to School Kick-Off,” introduced new and active music students to the academy’s Los Angeles Chapter GRAMMY U Network. The network was formed to introduce, guide and mentor college students with limited or no professional experience in the music recording industry.
About 250 students attended the two-hour event, with about 50 coming from CSUN. Other participants included students from Citrus College, the University of Southern California and Santa Monica City College, among others.
Grace Baca, project manager of the Los Angeles Chapter GRAMMY U Network, said the organization offers students opportunities to speak with well-known musicians and artists about work requirements and musical qualifications for film and other music related industries. Such work involves songwriting, composing and music arrangement.
“Our goal is to have at least one GRAMMY U representative in each of our communities,” Baca said. “We organize this event to introduce ourselves to music students, some of whom we hope will represent us in other schools.”
GRAMMY U has networks in several of the most important music industry cities across the nation. Chapters can be found in Seattle, Memphis, New York, Miami, Atlanta and San Francisco. Students can become members once they pay the $25 yearly membership fee.
As members, students have free access to workshops and songwriting and production sessions. The events are held in each of the 12 cities where the organization is present.
Brian Avnet, a music manager who has managed violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and Colin Hay from Men at Work, said he expects the word about GRAMMY U to spread.
Currently, the organization is better known for its once a year recording industry awards show.
“I love to give back to our communities,” Avnet said. “Those of us who are fortunate to be successful must share our experiences with young people.
“I listen to music from everybody until I find something interesting. I’m sure some of these students here have good music,” Avnet said.
Avnet, who is also the manager of instrumentalist Josh Groban, also serves as the governor in the 40-member corporate governance board of trustees.
GRAMMY U members can gain access to a set of diverse services and benefits once they sign up. For example, musicians can get referrals to medical clinics if they don’t have resources or need emergency services. Some of these services are even provided in rural places. In addition, The Recording Academy recruits interns through GRAMMY U in each city in which it operates.
Greg Adams, a recognized jazz trumpet player and founding member of Tower of Power, said he was happy to see a positive response from students to the GRAMMY U mixer. Adams said the college generation is the demographic his colleagues want to reach and embrace.
“We have a good turnout,” Adams said. “”It’s important for our chapter to have new members. These members are our future.”
Adams, who just released his fifth jazz solo recording, “Cool to the Touch,” said young musicians usually approach him with questions about what and what not to do while developing their music skills. They’re also curious about management and legal issues involving music presentations, Adams said.
“They are like sponges,” Adams said. “It’s really rewarding to give back and work with them. For us mentoring is a big thing.”
Adams said he is in talks with the department of jazz studies at CSUN to develop presentations and workshops.
Grace Yeon, a senior music studies major and piano player who attended the event, said she learned about it through comments made by students and music professor Joel Leach. Yeon wasn’t a GRAMMY U member before the event, but she said she registered after learning about the national scope of the organization.
“I see a lot of people networking here,” said Yeon. “It’s really impressive, good networking.”
Brothers Bryan and Brandon Forrest, who are students at Fullerton College, attended the gathering to chat with students about gigs and composing opportunities in the electronic music environment. They said they have produced electronic music using keyboards and special software, and that they own the copyrights of their productions after having filed for registration in the Library of Congress.
“We have done music for video games and other related fields,” Bryan said. “We are here because we love it. Everybody here loves to hang out and talk about (their) experiences doing music.”
Megan Geraghty, CSUN chapter representative of the GRAMMY U Network, said the recording academy’s outreach efforts are beginning to pay dividends because many students are members and are using some of the services and benefits available.
“I think it was important that students became aware about what the organization really is,” Geraghty said. “It’s important they know GRAMMY U is not just about handing out awards to musicians once a year. It’s about helping students bcome better musicians.”
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