The Innovator project allowed us to choose our own adventure, in a sense. We were allowed to create our own project and material, as well as choose a research topic that related to our project. I chose to partner up with my friend Emily as we were both passionate about music and the recording arts. We ended up recording two covers and wrote and recorded one original song with the help of our friend Sebastain Marulanda.


Our process started with choosing what songs to cover and working on writing our original. The staff at Freestyle recommended that we choose to cover songs with a strong social message to cover some of our 21st century skill requirements. We ended up choosing Guns For Hands by Twenty One Pilots (speaking out about mental illness), and Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara (speaking out about body image). Given that these two songs covered our social messages, we decided to write a cute love song as our original.

Neither me nor Emily are very proficient in piano, which was a must for the Twenty One Pilots song, so I found sheet music online, and brought in my friend Sebastain who had 10 years of piano under his belt, to play for us. We recorded the piano part using the electric piano as we were able to get the synth sounds we wanted that we couldn't achieve with a regular piano. We then used Sebastian to record the drums. Once we mixed the two instrumental tracks, I recorded the vocals over, finishing the song. It took a few tries, but I got it to my satisfaction.

Once our songs were completed we were faced with the task of making lyric videos for our songs. We chose to each make two videos, one for our respective covers, and one for the original. I wanted to make my videos interesting so I went into the effects and presets in AfterEffects, and used the extra ones in Adobe Bridge to add text in and out effects into my videos. I downloaded different fonts for each video rather than using the fonts that came with the applications, making far more aesthetically pleasing. Finally, we put our videos up on YouTube, sharing them with the world.

Research Paper

When approaching my research paper, it took me a while to figure out what to write about. I finally settled on how the digital streaming services such as Spotify are ruining the music industry, making it almost impossible for small up-and-coming artists to find their place in the mainstream. I used secondary sources found from articles and books online as well as a primary source in the form of a survey I created for my peers to fill out based on their digital streaming usage.

To read my research paper click here
Innovator Reflection

I had many different ideas when it came to what I wanted to do for my Innovator Project. I toyed with expanding on my short story, making another magazine layout, or writing a completely new story and making a book jacket for it. However, I settled on something that I was really passionate about: producing music. As someone who wants to possibly enter into the music industry working in a studio, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some hands-on experience with the recording arts. Originally I was planning on working alone, but once I heard that Emily had a similar idea to mine, it only made sense to partner up with her.

My research topic wasn’t directly related to my actual Innovator project. My topic was on how the digital age was ruining the music industry, making it almost impossible for small, up and coming artists to break into the mainstream. I learned a lot about how artists get paid through streaming services, and if anything, it discouraged me a little from the music industry. I learned, through my research, that perhaps the recording arts aren’t for me and something along the lines of promotional work, such as creating logos and running social media accounts for artists, is something that would be better suited for me. It didn’t, however, discourage me from completing my project to the best of my ability. I was just as passionate about the project after my research as I was before it.

For collaboration, Emily and I worked together to learn the studio and get things set up to record. We also called in our friend Sebastian to help us with some of the instrumentals, such as the piano and drums for Guns For Hands, and guitar and drums for our original song, Promise. He also ultimately ended up doing the vocals for our original. Being the writer of the song, I preferred a male voice to sing the lyrics over a female voice. Our collaborations were overall very successful. We struggled occasionally with making it clear as to when we wanted Sebastian to add a fill in the drum part, or something along those lines, but it was always quickly cleared up with no argument.

If I could do the project over, I believe that the only thing I would change, is that I’d like to work on my own. It’s nothing against Emily, it’s just that there were times where I felt like I was pulling the majority of the weight for the project, as I did vocals on two of the three songs, piano on one, and then I wrote our original. I believe I would’ve had more creative license to do everything I wanted to do without having to do things I wasn’t as comfortable with such as rap. This became very clear to me when we presented our project to the juniors and seniors and she had very little to say, leaving me to do most of the talking about the process we went through and how we got the idea and created our project.

I believe that the 21st Century skill I improved on the most was self-direction. I’ve never been good at keeping on a schedule without someone constantly checking in on me, making sure I was getting my work done. However, I was able to keep myself on track for this project with little to no outside help. I found piano music for Guns For Hands, I made my own piano part for Scars to Your Beautiful, and I wrote the lyrics for our original song, Promise. All of this was done in a timely manner and actually put us ahead of schedule for our project. The skill I believe I improved the least on is tech literacy just in the sense of the studio technology. Emily worked mostly behind the computer, but we needed a lot of help from Mr. Florendo in order to get things working for us. I didn’t learn much about how to use ProTools or how to link electric instruments such as the electric drum kit into the system and record. I did however, improve immensely in my AfterEffects skills. I was able to create two lyric videos with aesthetics that fit the songs they were paired with perfectly.

I believe that what I learned about time management and the benefits of staying on or ahead schedule will both be important to my future. The pros of staying on top of my work and not procrastinating until two days before a due date greatly outweigh the cons.

I innovated my own education by allowing myself to do a project I had an actual investment in. School projects are often tedious because there’s no emotional tie to the project, but with this one there was. The fact that we could choose something we’re passionate about and have three months to complete it, meant that we could actually grow and learn from our experiences.

I valued this project a lot because it taught me so much about myself. I learned that perhaps working in a studio isn’t the best path for me, but still working closely with bands and artists through PR and communications is. It gave me a new perspective on the music industry and how it works. Overall, I appreciate the opportunity this project gave me to explore myself and my field.