Recording inside Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac’s Franklin Street studio would excite a lot of people, but especially a young child recording music there for the first time.
“I always come by here and I was like, ‘This place looks pretty cool’ and as soon as I walked into this room, I was like, ‘That’s some pretty high-tech, cool stuff,” Julian Reynolds said.
Reynolds and his brother Oliver are standing in Takac’s control room watching their friend, Ben Chapman, sit down to play piano in the polished and stylish studio. Walls leading upstairs to the studio are covered in rock and roll posters. Julian just got done playing Weezer’s "Island in the Sun" on piano.
The children are all private students of Katie Ann, a music teacher, producer and artist who works closely with Takac’s Music is Art foundation to put together a free CD and benefit concert. The students are here to each record a track on that CD.
Each kid and their parent shuffled in, looking both a bit anxious and excited, then put at ease by Katie’s glowingly positive demeanor.
"Very good, Emma! I don't think you missed a single beat. That was awesome. Good job!," Katie praised one of her students.
They play their song, usually either classical contemporary or a newer pop song by artists like Imagine Dragons or Taylor Swift.
Katie Ann's enthusiasm shines through in her students. They don’t appear stressed, like one might expect them to feel under the pressure of performing in a professional studio. But they’re talented, riffing through piano songs and singing pop songs like the pop stars themselves.
“I love my job. Every day it’s different. You never know what you’re going to get. And it’s just fun teaching them something from ground zero,” Katie Ann said. “Many of them did not have a whole lot of music knowledge before, so it’s exciting watching them bloom into a talented musician and be able to connect with the community.”
Ellie Graney is a 13-year-old with a beautiful singing voice, singing the likes of Adele and Sam Smith and hitting every high and low note with confidence. Ellie has been singing for years and says she has definitely improved, now feeling capable enough to add her own spin on popular songs.
“I’m more used to it. I can figure out runs and I can find places in a song where I can put new things where I can include my personality in the song,” Graney said. “She’s a good teacher. I love it. I look forward to her coming every week and exploring new talents and new songs.”
On Friday night, Katie’s students are performing live at a benefit at Ashker’s Juice Bar on Elmwood Avenue at 6 p.m. They will also be giving out their CD of these recordings and asking for a donation to Music is Art.
“Some kids aren’t fortunate enough to be able to take music lessons like this, so I like the Music is Art foundation especially because they donate to kids that couldn’t always afford to take private lessons,” Katie Ann said. “They donate instruments, lessons, tools to schools and they also focus a lot on kids with special needs.”
The CD features a track from Katie herself, singing Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable,” which is fitting since for her students, the experience itself seemed pretty unforgettable.