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Grant brings School of Music, middle school students together for recording project


Thanks to a grant from the Les Paul Foundation, music business and industry students will continue their outreach to the community. 

Students will use the funds to produce a professional recording of the Westwood Middle School steel drum band and educate the young musicians about careers in the music industry, while emphasizing Paul’s involvement in the advancement of both music recordings and careers.

“The project will give students an experience they can carry into their careers. Students will be part of a real-world recording and release strategy that will give them professional experience in many areas of the music industry,” Josh Swiger, assistant teaching professor and Mon Hill Records general manager, said. 

Swiger said he also hopes the project opens a new world for the budding musicians at Westwood. 

“Middle school students are starting to think about life and where they want to be,” Swiger said. “By exposing students to career options, they have time to explore and learn about what is out there in the world for them to be passionate about. Providing young students with ideas, career paths and choices only increases their ability to be successful and happy in their lifetime.” 

Many know Les Paul as the famous guitarist, but fewer know of his monumental efforts in music production. He is known in the industry as “The Father of the Modern Recording Studio,” whose innovations include analog delay and phase shifting. 

Just as Paul’s contributions to the music industry are often underrecognized, so are West Virginia’s. The University has nurtured numerous musicians and producers, including Ellie Mannette, “the father of the modern steel drum” who founded Mannette Steel Drums in Morgantown. The drums are played worldwide, including by the students at Westwood Middle School. 

“The music industry is local to global,” Swiger said. “We live in a society that allows you to do the music industry anywhere in the world. By educating our region about the music industry, it allows students to grow art and culture here in West Virginia. Instead of outsourcing our talent, let’s educate them in this industry that can be done anywhere and keep them here in West Virginia.” 

The Les Paul Foundation inspires innovative and creative thinking by sharing Paul's legacy through the support of music education, recording, innovation and medical research related to hearing. This Foundation awards grants to programs and projects that encourage music production, performance innovation and innovative STEM and STEAM programs for students and others in challenging situations. 

“The Les Paul Foundation is pleased to award a grant to West Virginia University for their music industry and recording middle school project," Julie Palkowski, education coordinator, said. “The project plan wishes to engage students in the music business and recording while helping them to understand the history and advancements rooted in the legendary work of musician and inventor Les Paul. We look forward to hearing and seeing the program student's creative and innovative work.” 

The grant from the Les Paul Foundation was made through the WVU Foundation.

Find more information about the Les Paul Foundation.

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