Since 2015, teens have found a new home in the Resnick Education Wing, located within the upper floors of Carnegie Hall. In the Weill Music Institute’s Future Music Project, young musicians create, perform, and produce their own original music in workshops, classes, and performances four days a week. Teens can participate in Studio 57, a free drop-in space that is open to anyone each Saturday where they can attend master classes, jam with their peers, or work on independent projects. Regular weekly afterschool workshops range from songwriting and digital music creation to concert production.
The 2016–2017 season marks the beginning of the Future Music Project Ensemble, a New York City–based group of teens who come together to create a youth-led, youth-run, and youth-produced musical collective that is as diverse and vibrant as the city itself. The ensemble aims to create an aspirational place for teens to develop music and ideas and share them with the world.
Meet a few of the teens and pros who have already been involved in this growing community of young musicians.
I would describe myself as a wallflower. I’m someone who sees the world in a different kind of way, and I don’t usually speak out on it. I keep coming to this program because I like to challenge myself. I would like to learn more about everything. I enjoy music because I like the way music makes me feel, and also I feel that this program is a way for me to finally let that out, which I can’t really do anywhere else.
One thing I like about the Digital Music Production class is that it’s humbling, it’s very humbling. I thought I knew everything I needed to know about listening to music, let alone creating it. When I came here, I learned that there are different people who make different kinds of music, and I would love to just be able to open my mind to all those things, because that will probably—well, hopefully—make me a better artist.
Part of the reason I’m here is to get better at doing what I love doing and intend to do for the rest of my life. It’s probably one of the greatest opportunities I’ve ever had. It’s evident that in this program, music is the most important thing in the world. It transcends all else. I often say it transcends the human condition, transcends language. It even sometimes transcends community. It’s almost that utopia that everyone dreams of. I’ve only experienced this when playing music with people whom I know and love, and who are all invested in the same experience. To create a wonderful environment where we can thrive and be who we are through our music is my favorite thing in the entire world.
In my master class, I decided to show the participants my tradition of learning Indian music. One of the most powerful moments was when I showed the teenagers how a guru adopts a student into their musical tradition. The guru ties a thread to the student’s wrist, creating a spiritual bond. The teenagers were very interested in the beauty of this bond and how the tradition is passed on orally. I left Carnegie Hall with a soft heart and a depth of emotion for all the young people. It was a fantastic experience and one that I’ll never forget.
There are many places in New York and elsewhere for young people to come and study jazz, classical, and even rock and hip-hop music in formal classes and ensembles. Future Music Project is the only program I’m aware of that invites young people who are into music to bring their ideas and enthusiasm for whatever kind of music they like and explore them together. Knowing that a few years down the road there will likely be songs, albums, bands, and lasting friendships and alliances that would not have otherwise been made makes me think that in a business where so many accomplishments and achievements fade as the lights go down and the audience heads out into the night, we are creating something positive that will last.
Learn more about Future Music Project.