Studio 2001 SoundCloud Channel

Here at SoundCloud are tracks that have been recorded, mixed and mastered in our Recording Studio at St. Ignatius College Preparatory.

Some of the first tracks shared on the channel were recorded at the Iglesia Santa Maria in Tolosa, Spain using our original Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 and the AKG 451Bs. I referenced this tour, the early years of the studio and the student who co-built Studio 2001 Gabe Todaro ’12 in this article.

Studio 2001

Welcome back to the Recording Studio series.

Below is an article from Genesis, a magazine published quarterly by St. Ignatius College Preparatory, where I had the opportunity to ‘project manage’, from start to finish (actually any good project is in some sort of a work-in-progress), the building of a full service Recording Studio. These kinds of opportunities don’t simply fall out of the sky; in fact, this article will have been written nearly three years after our initial acquisition of a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40 and 2 AKG 451s.

Over the course of three years, together with a team of colleagues and professional engineers, we’ve created a space for those students interested in audio engineering to pursue their curiosity, utilizing some of the industry’s most professional audio components and microphones.

I have also documented the work we’ve accomplished on the studio in these photo albums:

Studio 2001 Genesis Article by czullinger

1967 Chevrolet Nova SS

So I have this car…..
I am in the possession of a 1967 Chevrolet, Nova SS. How did I become the owner of this 60’s classic muscle car? That is probably another novel completely…
At any rate, I have this car. Here is a photo of the car as of January 1, 2016:
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Yes – this is basically an auto restoration, DIY – albeit on the milder side of restorations – project. I’m not entirely sure how to begin, or how best to proceed. I do know this: the short term goal of this chapter of my DIY car project = turn the key, start the motor, and drive.
I was given the car by my father as a daily driver back in the fall of 1992. I have a history with these particular cars largely due to my father, who by today’s standards, was a “gear head” when he was a teenager. He went to college in the South at Oglethorpe University and was impressed by the 66-67 Nova: clean lines, curb weight, and speed. This fascination would then transfer itself to my teenage years. I took my driver’s test in a 1966 Nova wagon. My first regular driver was a 1966 Chevy II, 2-door sport coupe. After I slowly ruined the tired 350 motor in that car, I drove a 1964 Nova SS for a couple of years until I ultimately was given this blue, 1967 Nova SS as my final parent-provided vehicle to use and drive:
Evernote Camera Roll 20160104 104239
At this point I am in college, studying as a music major and working at a restaurant to purchase fuel for the car. My father and I still want to pursue the “father/son” project back when I was 16, so we sit down and try to envision the car we want given the vehicle we currently have.
Here is the cowl tag of the car:
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The car that left the factory in October of 1966 was a Tahoe-turquoise, vinyl top, A/C (right??), 283, 2sp automatic, non-posi, Chevy II Nova Super Sport. As the knowledgeable folks out there reading this, the car that we want:
Black-on-black, 327/350 hp, 4sp manual, 3:36 posi-traction 67 Nova SS (no A/C, no vinyl top)
Yes – the numbers do not match; I get that. Remember the goal in the beginning of this post? Turn the key, start the motor and drive
Here is a link to the photos I took on January 1, 2016. Paint and body work are complete, the 327/350hp engine has been rebuilt, the Muncie M-22 4sp has been rebuilt, posi-traction ring & pinion are resting on the garage floor, the new interior is still in packages, new chrome bumpers, polished SS trim moldings….  Yep; the only thing to do – essentially – is to put it all back together.
So… here goes a new chapter on this blog: 1967 Nova SS.

The Search for Meaning in the Choral Festival

How do we create an environment of intrinsic motivation in an activity that promises an extrinsic reward? In my second article for Tempo, I share some of my thoughts and conversations with both students and colleagues over the years.

In the post The Music Festival on this blog are actual Score Sheets, Recordings and Student Observations from the choral festival I referenced in the article below.

Tempo – Vlm 44, No. 3

The Music Festival

Since I began my tenure at St. Ignatius College Prep, I have taken the Chamber Singers to this festival for several reasons: the quality of Adjudication and the level of musicianship by the participating choirs. In the almost 10 years of it’s existence, it has become the Bay Area’s premier choral festivals. I particularly value this summative assessment for not only my students but for me as well. To my knowledge, it is one of the only assessments that evaluate students and their teacher simultaneously.

NVCC Comments and Ratings 20Mar2015 by czullinger

I was tremendously pleased with the students work the day of the festival. To be honest, I wasn’t exactly pleased with their level of preparation throughout the process. I gave several formative assessments before the festival and those results were somewhat mixed. In the future, I could use the scoring rubric for the festival as a template for their own evaluation in those assessments.

What was most interesting is that the piece the students intrinsically favor the most from the set is their weakest piece at this particular snapshot in the music’s evolution. All things considering, I knew going in the Esenvalds was a stretch for this particular ensemble, not because they can’t sing it, it’s just that the composition simply demands more than this choir is capable of producing. They are a High School chamber choir of 28 voices, and when I first was programming this festival set, I was captivated by my colleagues College choir of about 32 – undergraduate and graduate voice majors – sized ensemble.

Yet again, this piece won their hearts over and they love so much to sing this piece. Looking back, and looking forward, I don’t think I have found the right standing order so they can really hear each other adequately. Also, it is very difficult to tune the water glasses and achieve a consistent sense of intonation with the chimes and choir. At the retreat when we first learned the piece, I had 2 performers per pitch on the tuned water glasses; we performed with only 1 on a part at the performance. Our intonation (tuning) was not our strongest component that afternoon.

William Byrd’s Sing Joyfully, on the other hand, is a perfect selection for this choir. This music is difficult, mostly because singers in the 21st century can’t instantly recall the ‘sound’ of music over 400 years old in the same way they can differentiate between the subtleties of Hip Hop. It’s just not in their ears. In the learning process, this requires a lot of patience and vocal modeling. Over the years, I have observed Renaissance music for high school students has – to some degree – been motivating for them because they just want to figure it out, kind of like a puzzle. There is also a sense of satisfaction when these mostly linear phrases lock  into vertical sonorities at cadential points along the way.

I also have been very cognizant of what it is the students are really trying to attain: a Unanimous Superior plaque or authentic music making and sharing. I really believe in the format of this particular choir festival. After the performance, each ensemble receives a 20 minute clinic from one of the Adjudicators in front of other students from participating schools. The festival focus has always been: Educational from the country’s top, collegiate choral directors and sharing choral music from exemplary High School choirs in the Bay Area (it is an Invitational choir festival). And yes, the performance is rated/graded (fortunately it is not ranked).

The students had some interesting thoughts about the experience that can be found here: http://sichambersingers.blogspot.com/2015/03/festival-thoughtscomments.html

Create a Recording Studio

This is the first post in an ongoing series about the Recording Studio I created at St. Ignatius College Preparatory.

First Step: Have something to Record

In 2012 we had a senior in the music department that for the most part knew he was going to be Recording Engineering major in college. That same year I arranged a performance tour with my choir to Europe on an itinerary that traced the places Ignatius of Loyola lived and worked during his lifetime. On his first, semi-professional gig, Gabe accompanied the group as the recording engineer, capturing some amazing sessions in Europe’s most amazing churches to record choirs. He learned a ton; we were able to document some spectacular moments on the choir tour, and everyone benefits!

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The gear we purchase for the tour and some of the first pieces in our inventory:

  1. Focusrite Saffire Pro 40
  2. AKG C 451 B Stereo Pair
  3. MacBook Pro
  4. Logic

Here are some tracks from that tour:

It would take nearly 2 years for those and several other songs to be released on the Chamber Singers second CD “Listen“. The ‘studio’ during this interim would essentially lay dormant until Gabe and I start to dream big about the possibility of laying the foundation towards a Recording Program at St. Ignatius College Prep in the spring of 2014.

Second step: Dream big – Your only limitation is your imagination

Learning Space Makeover

My colleague and I inherited a teaching space with two primary purposes: a) Band rehearsal room, b) Music Appreciation classroom. This double wide classroom was used for this purpose for nearly two and a half decades before our arrival in 2008.

When my colleague and I arrived we continued to use the space for similar functions but soon realized the limitations of the space and began to conduct instrumental music rehearsals in larger, multi-purpose rooms, but the Band Room continued to be used for Music Appreciation classes. We cobbled together an old, gun-metal gray A/V cart with a used combo cassette, CD and AM/FM unit (with an AUX input) connected to a video projector that displayed content from our computers, complete with a pull-down screen! We used the space this way for a good 6 years before I attend my first ISTE conference last summer (2014 in Atlanta). During the conference, conversations with our Educational Technologist – whom I was traveling with – went something like this: if we had a space to “re-do” at school, what could it look like? Coincidentally, the Band Room and several other areas around campus had been scheduled for seismic retrofitting construction the same summer as the ISTE conference which was a perfect convergence, and opportunity to design and make this space into a 21st century learning environment.

Here is the room as it had been oriented since I had arrived at St. Ignatius College Prep. It was essentially a rehearsal room after school and a classroom during the regular school day.IMG_0145

Rehearsal spaceIMG_0158

Under construction June 20142014-05-29 14.01.11

Some sketchesBand Room_north wall

Architectural Plans for installation of itemsBand Room blue prints

Stuff beginning to appear. Jamie and I setting up the flat screen (after mounting to the wall)2014-10-09 11.06.53

Learning space beginning to resemble Skitch drawings. Had to keep the old A/V cart around for good measure! Sitting next to it is an 12-channel Berhinger mixer connected to a Crown 300w amplifier which will power the 12″ Berhinger speakers mounted on the wall just above white boards. Affixed to the mounting bracket for monitor is an Apple TV for wireless connectivity.2014-10-25 17.25.13

A few weeks ago I picked up a headphone preamp so we could start an iPad Band jam session. The space also has 5 iMacs around the perimeter of the room (seen here) for teams to use more robust versions of Garage Band and/or iMovie.IMG_1963

The next phase is to incorporate some furniture that encourages collaboration and creates group sectors or pod areas in the room. This would include chairs, tables and desks that are modular and mobile since the space is fairly large and could support a variety of classroom arrangements. I have some ideas from a company called Steelcase that I would love to outfit the room with sometime in the next 12-16 months. And finally, none of this is possible without sharing and the ideas from my colleagues Jamie Pruden and Eric Castro for their contributions in this project.