A few years ago, Daniel Fox, owner, producer and engineer with Wondersmith Audio, plus a Zumix volunteer, discovered a missing link between school music programs and the professionals leading them. To repair that link, Fox began offering his services to the schools to help them make bigger and more prolonged advances in their musical and theater programs. Fox spoke to Parentology recently about bringing music education to Boston schools.
Helping Schools Understand Where They Need Help
Fox sees himself as a “holistic music technology consultant,” but doesn’t want anyone to get lost in the word holistic. When Fox says it, he means offering music technology consultations as they pertain to the larger picture versus focusing on any single element. Since a lot of schools initially contact Fox because they need help with a certain musical event, it’s easy for him to see areas where their programs need help.
Teaching Repairing, Not Replacing
Sometimes, Fox needs merely offer a workshop on how to tune and repair drum sets. Training staff on how to use existing materials instead of buying new ones is a major aspect of his program.
“A school might have a five-year-old mixing board no one really knows how to use,” he says. “And if someone changes something they assume that the whole thing is broken.”
A major problem he sees throughout the schools he works with are instruments and supplies getting broken because nobody knows the correct way to care for them. “For example, I teach them how to coil a cable so there aren’t any kinks, or how to solder cables instead of replacing them.”
The Importance of Musical Education
Fox believes these types of efforts help schools better allocate their funds while still giving kids access to music and theatre programs. “Money is better spent on training than buying materials,” he says, noting many music programs have been canceled over the years, and the ones that remained open treat music and music technology as an afterthought.
So Fox wanted to do something to help push public education in the right direction. “[Schools are treating music] as supplemental and optional as opposed to being integral to education.”
Fox says removing music programs and educators who can show kids the ropes from schools is doing a disservice to kids. With help from audio engineers and by simple financial burdens trimming, Fox hopes music programs will thrive.