ECOLE.sounds is an award- winning project launched by Ecole d’Humanité in collaboration with renowned Swiss musician and producer, Stefan Bregy.
The project provides an interactive experience allowing students to produce beats, songs, and radio plays, on campus via ‘Das fahrende Tonstudio’ (The travelling Music Studio) and without the need for large technical investment on the part of the school.
Ecole d’Humanité: Where Holistic Learning and Innovation Meet
The Ecole d’Humanité is a bilingual (English/German) boarding school in Bern, Switzerland. The school offers an innovative, progressive education and focuses on nurturing students by giving them the freedom and support to follow their passions, both inside and outside the classroom. It is this holistic approach to education that made them the perfect fit for collaboration with Stefan Bregy and ‘Das fahrende Tonstudio’.
For the Love of Music
Having started his relationship with music at a young age, Stefan Bregy knew that it would always form part of his life. However, as a young adult, he prioritised job security, studied geography and chemistry and trained to be a teacher. Although passionate about his high school teaching commitments, music was never far from sight. Over the years Stefan has held many roles including keyboardist, producer and musical director for some of Switzerland’s most successful musicians.
It was during this time that Stefan began conceptualising a programme where students could learn about music and record their own tracks. Over time the idea developed and matured into a full-service mobile recording studio.
The ECOLE.sounds Project
The ECOLE.sounds project is more than just an “add on” to regular classroom work. It is a year-long, multidisciplinary project that explores music and sound from a variety of perspectives. During the year, students will compose music, record original compositions, and produce and publish their finished pieces. Another unique component of this course is that students study the theory of sound and the musical properties of shapes and materials. Then they are challenged to craft a musical instrument of their own design, which then become an important part of their musical composition.
“For the first day or two, I’m really technical – students learn how to use the microphones, the computers, and the programmes. Then, they are free! They can decide whether they want to do a singer/ song writer soft project, or if they will go into hardcore techno beats, or even classical music!”
Bregy of the ECOLE.sounds project.
The ECOLE.sounds project is delivered in three-parts: 1. composition, recording, and production; 2. Research into generative music composed using computer programmes; and 3. a musical performance with their self-crafted instruments.
In 2021, students completed units on the theory of sound and applied the principles of physics in the construction of musical instruments.
The next project phase sees students explore generative music and will create works of art in the form of sound sculptures. Part of this process includes learning how to use music production software and equipment. Students will also develop and design their own algorithms.
The ECOLE.sounds project is set to wrap up at the end on the 2021/22 school year and will culminate in three musical works of art:
• A piece of music composed, recorded, and produced by students.
• An acoustic art installation. This is an art form that explores the interplay of music and visual arts created and curated by students.
• A concert with music composed by students and played on the instruments constructed by students in the first phase of the project.
Benefits Beyond Music
The benefits of the project are far reaching and include both academic extension and personal development. The ECOLE.sounds project is designed to encourage students to explore various aspects of music and sound. Although the course is academically challenging, students gain great benefit and motivation from seeing and hearing their work come to life.
As well as gaining confidence in themselves and becoming familiar with new technologies, students learn important real-world skills like project management, problem solving, commitment and focus. Additionally, students develop an appreciation and understanding of a variety of musical genres.
“If you are creating one song during a week, you must really focus on what it is you’re doing, and what you want to achieve.”
Although, ongoing the ECOLE.sounds project was acknowledged for innovation as part of the 2021 Tête-à-tête competition for cultural promotion in schools by the Canton of Bern in cooperation with the Stanley Thomas Johnson Foundation.
Today, education is much more than traditional subjects and rote learning. Ecole d’Humanité is leading the way with innovative, student-directed activities and exciting outcomes. The ECOLE.sounds project is an exceptional example of how a subject can be taught across disciplines and adapted to the needs of individual students, while maintaining academic rigour and most importantly, fun!
The Ecole d’Humanité is a progressive, international boarding school in the heart of the Swiss Alps that fosters the discovery and development of individual talents in an atmosphere that encourages self-determination, innovation, and tolerance. www.ecole.ch