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East Bronx students learn ins and outs of song production

“I was raised on TV / Movies and magazines / Mama told me to believe/ I could be everything …”

That’s the opening verse to “Where Does the Time Go?,” a song co-written by 10 students at East Fordham Academy for the Arts in the Bronx. Fueled by coffee and nerves, the students, all middle school girls, took turns crooning into microphones at a recording studio in SoHo this afternoon.

According to sixth-grader Katherine Ocasio, the song is about their expectations for the future.

“It’s about how we feel and what we want to do,” she said. Each student was paired with a lyric about how they might envision a satisfying life to sing for the recording. “What I said was, ‘maybe I’d live in Paris.'”

When it was her turn to step into the recording booth and sing that line, Ocasio’s heart started to beat a little faster. She remembered her music teacher Zach Rifkind’s advice — keep your shoulders pulled back, and breathe from the diaphragm.

According to Rifkind, the song-production project, which is part of a partnership between his school, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, and the nonprofit PENCIL, offers lessons in teamwork and the creative process.

Before this project, he said, “The students said, “‘Oh, I only write songs for myself, or poems for my friends.’ They didn’t realize that’s the start of the song process, and how much they’re already doing creatively, whether it’s singing on their own or matching songs with their moods.”

After listening to the rough recording played back to them, some students clapped or blushed. The final product won’t be finished for several weeks.