- Associated Press - Saturday, October 4, 2014

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) - About five hours and about 340 miles away from Nashville, Huntington High School seniors Hailee Bryant and Jake Steele are taking musical matters into their own hands inside a recording studio “on the hill.”

Since the beginning of the school year, Bryant and Steele have been spending a portion of their mornings inside of an improvised studio in the school, courtesy of orchestra instructor Ron Caviani, writing and recording music for an album that is set to be completed by the end of the academic year.

The yet-to-be-titled album is filled with songs largely written by Bryant and produced by Steele. Bryant takes lead vocals and acoustic guitar responsibilities while Steele and Caviani also play guitar, bass and other supporting instruments.

“We’ve been recording songs that I wrote,” Bryant said. “I played the guitar, too. We’ve been adding on bass tracks, guitar solos, drums and putting vocals in to combine it to make into an album.”

The album isn’t quite ready for an upload from iTunes, but it will be ready for a grade and limited distribution as part of a special topics class Bryant and Steele are taking with supervision from Caviani.

“The advance kids get to work in here instead of sitting in the population learning progressions,” Caviani said. “There’s a screening process that goes into it. The process is going through the advance guitar glass, and then, as I listen to them, I talk to them and figure out what’s going on. Then, we can allow a little more access to this.”

The studio with no name has all of the fixings of a professional studio, only this one happens to be located in an instrument storage closet inside the orchestra room at Huntington High.

Caviani cobbled together the studio over the course of a few years.

It started out with a laptop with a recording program, which has been upgraded recently courtesy of the Cabell County Schools’ technology department.

Along the way, he found a set of speakers to attach, and he put some of his personal sound equipment in the studio. He removed the projection screen from his classroom and installed it in the studio.

A recording booth also was constructed using carpet-upholstered room dividers with a microphone posted inside.

“It gets pretty quiet in there,” Caviani said. “We’ve had to put all of this together a little bit at a time.”

The assorted parts in the studio are enough for Bryant and Steele, who in late September was working on a song called “My Time to Shine,” and it has been used for about four years to record albums for other students and local musicians, Caviani said.

In addition to writing, recording and editing, the students also are learning how to copyright their music.

Bryant and Steele each said they would like to work in the music business when they graduate from high school this school year, and having this studio experience has solidified those goals.

“This is really what I want to do with the rest of my life,” Steele said. “I went to the Berkley College of Music over the summer for a five-week program, and this was what we were doing every day. It was really what helped me decide this is what I want to do with my career, and this has given me the opportunity to look into the future every day, which is pretty cool.”

Bryant and Steele both have been playing guitar for nine or 10 years. Steele listed his influences as Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix, and Bryant said she had to admit Taylor Swift was a big influence in piquing her interest in music at a young age.

“Ever since I was little, I’ve always written songs, played the guitar and dreamed of having an album,” she said. “This gives me a chance. Regular recording studios cost a lot of money, so this is a good opportunity to get it all out there.

“I didn’t know anything about producing, recording or editing until I came in here.”

Still, the interest isn’t what Bryant said will help take her to the next level in her musical career.

“You have to have motivation, definitely,” she said. “You have to strive to be better no matter what and just keep doing that.” For Bryant, working through the day-to-day grind is what he said is going to help him achieve his goal of producing one day.

“You have to realize some days you are not going to want to do things,” he said. “You need to push through and keep doing them because it’s what, in the end, makes it worth it.”


Information from: The Herald-Dispatch, https://www.herald-dispatch.com

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