The story of the RHS Recording studio begins with a black box. Looking for a simple and cost-effective way for students enrolled in music production to record, staff advisor Mr. Luckenbill created a portable studio in a large felt box on wheels. Now two years, quite a bit of grant money, half the TV Studio, and a team of dedicated students (and teacher) later, the studio has quickly outgrown its first home. Having produced four full-length student albums among a long list of other projects, the studio is manned by the Music Production Club members who meet weekly to explore and discuss recording techniques. The club is led by President Sarah Libov, Vice President and Artist Coordinator Jake Rubenstein, and Social Media Manager Caitlyn O’Hara. I spoke to the group to gain further insight into this impressive aspect of RHS’ Arts Department.
Emily: When was the music studio first created?
Studio Team: The studio was first established in 2017 after we got a grant from the Ridgewood Education Foundation to buy all of our equipment. It officially opened for bookings last year. The highlight of our projects last year was the first ARTBeat album.
Emily: One might assume the quality of music produced on a high school budget by student technicians would be akin to that of a Soundcloud mixtape, yet I’ve listened to a lot of recordings the studio has put out within the last year or so and find myself impressed with the quality. What kind of equipment does the recording studio have access to?
Studio Team: We have a wide range of microphones from companies like AKG, Warm Audio, and Shure, all types from condensers to dynamic mics. We have a 32-channel digital Behringer mixing board as well an audio interface and ProTools HD setup.
Emily: That’s impressive. Where does the studio get the money to fund this?
Studio Team: We have a budget allotted to us by the Board of Ed, but most of our funding came from the Ridgewood Education Foundation.
Emily: Can you describe what kind of things you tend to produce in the studio?
Studio Team: We record everyone from podcasts to rappers to jazz bands.
Emily: For students looking to record with you, how often are spots available and is there a cost associated with booking one?
Studio Team: There is usually one session booked per week. The studio is free for anyone to use, donations are greatly appreciated.
Emily: I’m sure there are students out there that are interested but either don’t know this club is available or how to get involved. What do you have to say to them?
Studio Team: The Music Production Club has grown to be a great opportunity for not only producers, but also songwriters, performers, sound engineers, and anyone who is interested in the world of music. As the industry changes, more artists and producers are becoming independent. It’s really beneficial for all of those people to talk to and learn from each other. I think that’s one unique aspect of our club that has developed a lot over the years. Everyone is welcome, no matter his or her experience.
Emily: Finally, do you have any future projects in the works you want students to know about?
Studio Team: Right now, we are working on expanding our new series “RHS Tiny Desk,” modeled after the NPR Tiny Desk concert series. We work with the TV club to create the episodes and you can view them on YouTube. We are also working on the second ARTBeat album, scheduled to be released in June. We are very excited about the new mix of artists and genres on this album.
If you have an interest in joining the club, be sure to get in contact with any of the people mentioned in this article or simply drop into the recording studio at lunch on Wednesdays (in between the orchestra room and the security desk). For more information or to book a session, be sure to check out their Instagram page (@rhsmusicproduction) and the website link in the bio.
Graphic: RHS Recording Studio