2010 NSBA Student Electronic Music Composition Talent Search Winners

About the Talent Search

Sponsored by MENC and the National School Boards Association (NSBA), the Electronic Music Composition Competition recognizes outstanding compositions and is held to help influence school administrators to include or improve music technology in their schools’ curriculum. Entries are judged based on their aesthetic quality, effective use of electronic media, and the power of the composition and its presentation in communicating to school board members, administrators, and others, the excitement and effectiveness of electronic music composition in the school curriculum.

Winning students and their schools receive prizes from MagicScore Music Software, Animusic, and MENC, and will be honored at the NSBA’s 2010 T+L Conference October, 20-22, 2010, in Phoenix, Arizona.

High School Winner: Ricco Burkhardt, Does Murder Sleep

Greenwich High School, Greenwich, CT
Teacher: Barbara Freedman

Read Ricco’s Essay
Listen to Does Murder Sleep
View the Score

My dad introduced me to music at an early age. I was fascinated by flowing tones of his guitar from the first time I heard them, and I was eager to make my own. In the third grade I got my first guitar, and my dad showed me how to play the basic chords and scales. However, guitar was not nearly enough. After asking my dad for a bass, I remember him telling me that I couldn’t play bass because I was only nine years old and my fingers were far too small. I was unpersuaded, and a trip to the music store followed some weeks later. It was there that I picked up a bass guitar and played a song I had taught myself on my three quarter guitar at home: “Money” by Pink Floyd. My dad was so awed by what he heard that he bought me the instrument.

By age 12 I had moved on from bass as well, because I was finally able to afford a drum set. Once I had bought a kit, I would run home almost every day from school, put my favorite Korn CD on full blast, and play along to the sounds on my kit. Some days I would play for hours on end. By the end of middle school I was asked to join a band with a few friends of mine. I have since been in several metal bands in the Greenwich area, and I have played numerous shows throughout Connecticut. More recently however, with the money I earned working my restaurant job, I have been able to design and build my own recording studio. Taking full advantage of my self-taught skills, I have produced numerous songs and videos of my own, some of which have been distributed over the internet.

There is nothing I love more, and nothing that has consumed more of my life, than the creation of all kinds of music.

Middle School Winner: Pershing Middle School Class Group, I Was In the Stars

Pershing Middle School, Houston, TX
Teacher: Patrick Cupo

Read Pershing Middle School’s Essay
Listen to I Was In the Stars
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The Music Production program of Pershing Middle School is part of the Houston Independent School District located in Houston, Texas. The students in this class learn to compose various styles of music using an audio editing software program called Ableton Live. According to Dan Giove, president and founder of Dubspot in New York City, Pershing’s Music Production program hosts the largest Ableton education program in the world. When informed of the sheer size of the program and the curriculum taught, Dave Hill, Directing Manager of Ableton Inc., said it was “… amazing that so many students are learning about our program, especially at such a young age.”

Music Production is taught by Mr. Patrick Cupo, who has also taught Guitar and Orchestra at Pershing in the past. He plays guitar, piano, bass, and is a working on becoming a certified Ableton trainer. Students taught by Mr. Cupo are exposed to all kinds of different musical concepts and ideas. Even though the Music Production class has been in session for only one school year, the students are already becoming internationally recognized.

The students of Music Production are constantly spreading the news about their musical abilities: They have made promotional videos for Dubspot, Sony, and Ableton about using Ableton Live and video games like Beaterator for the Sony PSP. After being recognized by Dubspot and Ableton, the students entered MENC’s Electronic Music Composition Talent Search and received a 1st place finish in the Middle School Group category for their piece titled “I Was in the Stars.”

Elementary School Winner: Spencer Young, A Dream

Endeavour Elementary School, Issaquah, WA
Teacher: Holly Miller

Read Spencer’s Essay
Listen to A Dream
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Spencer Young is 11 years old, and lives in Sammamish, Washington. He has studied music from the age of 5, and especially enjoys playing the piano. He enjoys learning music theory. He began to compose in 1st grade, and has continued to compose ever since then. For the past two years, he has written music for the school play, incorporating Orff instruments, miscellaneous percussion, digital composition, and the piano.

Spencer gets ideas for his compositions from many sources. He will pluck out a tune on the piano, and write it down for further development. He likes to use computer software to expand on his ideas. His composition for this year’s MENC event began as a little piece for his school play last year. He changed this piece into a piano duet, which he has performed with his father in a variety show. Finally, he re-worked it using a variety of different instruments to capture the essence of the song.

Spencer has many other interests. He enjoys school, and his favorite subjects are math, science, and reading. He also enjoys many different sports, including soccer, basketball, track, and kickball. He also likes to go camping with his Boy Scout troop.

Elementary School Runner-Up: Jack Hamill, An Adventure

Sunset Ridge School, Northfield, IL
Teacher: Carol Broos

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Listen to An Adventure
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Jack Hamill is eleven years old and lives in Northfield, Illinois. He has been playing the piano for five years and the trumpet for two, and recently picked up the guitar. He started composing last year, and is a big fan of the tools technology provides the modern composer.

Jack loves music of all kinds. His iTunes collection ranges from Beethoven to Aerosmith to great soundtracks to college football fight songs. His favorite music tells a story. Jack names John Williams as his favorite composer, and is eagerly making his way through movies with scores that Williams composed.

When not composing or playing music, Jack has a wide variety of interests, including ancient history (especially Greek), epic stories (everything from Harry Potter to The Odyssey), chess, skiing, golf, and soccer.

High School Runner-Up: Nick Rezuke, Presidential Jam

Kingswood-Oxford, West Hartford, CT
Teacher: Dr. Wayne Pierce

Read Nick’s Essay
Listen to Presidential Jam

Nick Rezuke lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, and is completing his sophomore year at Kingswood-Oxford School in West Hartford. His musical background includes choral singing as well as playing some piano and guitar, although his favorite musical expression is electronic music composition. The ability to express exactly what he wants, without the need to play a wide variety of instruments drew him to the world of digital music which he has explored in several classes at school. The scientific and mathematical perspectives of music have always fascinated him. Nick likes to think of music and sound in terms of sound waves and frequencies rather than notes and pitches. In addition to music technology, Nick’s interests include computer science programming, varsity swimming, track, cross-country, and sailing. Recently he obtained his lifeguard certification and will serve as a lifeguard in the summer. Nick is also currently designing a short text-based video game.