June 9, 2017
Magnet High School for the Arts & Humanities as a series of head-banging beats
seeped from a second-floor classroom and wafted down the hall.
About every 60 seconds or so, the beat changed from heavy
rap basslines, to Latin horns, to guitar riffs often heard in old-school
Inside, a group of students took turns sharing the music
they had created as part of their final projects for the new Music Business and
Production I class.
One by one, instructor Terrance Dennie cued up each student’s
GarageBand-produced beats, pumped it through a couple of JBL speakers and
projected it onto a screen in the classroom. He and his students (who were
required to evaluate each other’s work) listened and looked for originality, creativity,
fading, the chorus and bridge, volume and more.
During the school year, students of all ages and tastes in
music walked into Dennie’s class each day eager to try the skills they’d learned
on the music-making app. Although this was the inaugural year for the class, it
quickly gained in popularity with students.
Allee N., 16, took the class because she wanted to try something
new and instantly liked it because she was “learning how to record and do
different things on the computer that I didn’t know before,” she said. “It’s also
a lot easier than I thought it was going to be.”
For Isaiah P., 17, the class feeds into his already strong
passion for music.
“I really love this class. I make music in my free time, so
I just wanted to do this for myself,” said Isaiah. “In the industry that you’re seeing now, you have to pay people for
beats and you have to pay people to mix (songs) for you when you can really
learn how to do that for yourself. So I saw this class as a chance to learn how
to do some of that myself.”
The favorite part of the class for both Allee and Isaiah,
however, is the freedom they are given by Dennie. “You can sit here and make
beats to how you like it,” said Isaiah.
But it’s not just about making music in this class. For a
well-rounded education of the music business, Dennie uses this entry-level
class to teach everything from how to make and copyright music, to building a
brand. Students even learn about the other jobs behind the scenes of the business.
“Not everybody can be a producer and not everybody can be a
singer, so there are other jobs that are in the music industry and that’s what
we learn about. What it looks like in the other jobs in the business,” said
Dennie, an Indianapolis-based music producer, musician and recording artist.
The interest level, he said, has been incredible. But that
doesn’t surprise him, because students are learning about something they’re
interested in and that they love to do.
“I get teased around the school because I don’t have the
classroom issues that some of the other teachers have,” said Dennie. “But many
of the teachers have said that if they were in my class, they would act right,
The class, created by Principal Dr. Bryant Williams, mimics
the music and recording program at Full Sail
University. Yet, for students who are really serious about a career in the
music business, Dennie wants them to be further along than he was during his
freshman year at Indiana University.
“When I got to IU and wanted to major in music, I didn’t
realize that they talk about thigs like ohms, wattage and voltage. I was like, decibels
… I don’t know what that is,” said Dennie, a Gary, Ind. native who plays drums,
piano and the organ, and comes from a musical family. While at IU he studied
under Dr. Tyron Cooper, who, he said, helped take his music to the next level.
Since then, Dennie’s passion has been to better equip
students who want to pursue music in college or in the real world straight out
of high school to know this “stuff” already. “It’s a way to give students an
The Music Business and Production class at Broad Ripple was
designed as a three-year course. According to Dennie, students master
GarageBand the first year, Logic ProX the second year and Pro Tools (what
industry professional use) the third year.
“By the time students have taken all three years, they’ll be
able to be engineers and be able to run their own studios,” said Dennie.