The Nyack Center is known for many things: an after-school program, Music for Aardvarks children classes and as a venue for Rivertown Film screenings.
What it’s not known for is being a hub of musical creativity.
In July, a sound and recording studio will open in the 26-year-old community center, offering students the opportunity to learn about voice overs, audio engineering and video and music production. Students will be able to create and record their own music under the supervision of an experienced sound engineer.
“We were looking for a creative solution to keep Nyack Center children engaged,” says the Center’s Executive Director Kim Cross. “Essentially, providing an activity that the young kids are interested in.”
Visiting the newest space in the center is a little like stepping into Abbey Road Studios, or onto an episode of “Vinyl.”
With a mix of exposed brick, wood and new walls, there’s a 12-foot, soundproof “live” room that’s used for recording voice-overs or music. Directly opposite is the state-of-the-art control room outfitted with studio mixers where an in-house studio engineer will be available to help students create music. A large classroom rounds out the new studio space.
Students who attend the after-school program will be able to spread their creative wings by participating in master classes, including voice over techniques taught by Peabody Award-winning broadcaster Elliott Forrest of WQXR-FM.
But it’s not just the bells and whistles that make the new center great: More than 15 local professionals have offered their services pro bono, including sound engineer Ed Willock and music producer Fran Cathcart.
The duo gave a tour of the newly-created center last week and talked about their involvement.
Cathcart, who lives in Nyack, helped design the live room and control room. He’s worked as a sound engineer, producer, guitarist and arranger/programmer. Why is he involved? “I love teaching,” he says. “I owned EastSide Sound in Manhattan for ten years and one of my favorite things to do was teach interns new things and to show people how to create music.”
Willock, an audio-visual professional, was already working at Nyack Center as a program coordinator for Backdoor Cafe, a youth program for at-risk teens. He volunteered to work on the new project.
“I hope to spend my time helping teens learn new skills they can take and use going forward,” says Willock who has been at the center since he was a student. “It’s going to give the kids a place to bring their creative outlets and to learn the technical skills to produce themselves.”
The digital multi-track recording and media studio will offer hands-on training for those 10 years old and older. It’s an affordable local option for budding musicians, singers and songwriters who can’t travel to Westchester or New York City for classes.
Studio capabilities include recording live events in the main auditorium plus a new work space outside the control room for other study. The new facility will also offers workshops and be available for working professionals for a rental fee.
“We’re really excited to have an educational component for young people in our community and a professional space for people to rent and use,” said Cross.
The schedule for upcoming programs and workshops will be available in the next few weeks.
Getting the recording studio up and running and making music has been a seven-year process that began as an idea that came from Rockland Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, whose son is in the music field. Nyack Center received a New York State grant of $250,000 in 2014; plans for construction began four years ago.
Nyack Center offers a low-cost breakfast club and after school programs for working families at or below federal income guidelines for poverty. The after-school program serves 150 children every school day for low-income working families. Cross says the new recording studio is in line with the community center’s mission to provide opportunities for teens at risk for drug and alcohol abuse or gang involvement.
It will also provide the opportunity for students of different socioeconomic groups to learn in the same environment, for a common purpose. “This is a chance for all of our children to work together,” Cross says.