Clarinetist Keyona Carrington, a high school senior, has been involved with Peabody’s Tuned-In program since she was 8 years old. Tuned-In, which uses music as a catalyst for social change and youth empowerment, provides a tuition-free Peabody Preparatory education to Baltimore City Public Schools students.
When COVID-19 descended, curtailing the opportunity for in-person lessons and performances, Carrington and other students shifted to making digital music using a program called Soundtrap. The online program allows students and ensembles to arrange several pieces of music and other audio into new multitrack recordings.
It’s one of the many technological resources that Tuned-In has provided to enable students to continue with their music education during the pandemic. And it was made possible by a generous $1.25 million gift to the Tuned-In program last fall from William H. Miller III, a member of the Johns Hopkins University board of trustees.
Along with providing access to digital music tools like Soundtrap, as well as Logic and Ableton, Tuned-In has offered online lessons and camps, and helped with technology purchases for young musicians. Once the pandemic restrictions ease, Miller’s gift will continue to bolster the impact of the Tuned-In program by expanding summer programs to provide deeper engagement for students and families, and by strengthening the program’s ability to retain enrolled students by increasing investment in those at risk of attrition.
“I am delighted to be able to support Peabody’s Tuned-In program and its important work to nurture the next generation of musicians,” says Miller, a former Johns Hopkins philosophy student who went on to become a renowned investment manager at Legg Mason Capital Management Value Trust and the founder and chairman of Miller Value Partners.
Carrington says that of the seven pieces she has arranged through Soundtrap, she is most proud of her first. She mixed together several audio samples, including John Legend’s and Common’s Glory, Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around, and a reading of Maya Angelou’s poetry. She also worked with a friend to create a visual element, a slide show with scenes from African American history, which accompanied the audio. The final piece was her response to police brutality and the injustices faced by the African American community.
Because of her new skills, Carrington, along with Tuned-In Founder Dan Trahey (BM ’00, Tuba, Music Education) and Director of Graduate Conducting Marin Alsop, also spoke about digital music and audio editing as part of the Creative Youth Development Online seminar sponsored by the League of American Orchestras — an experience that she says is “probably the biggest thing that came out of all that Peabody has done for me.”
Seventh-grader Jayden Moore has also been able to continue his musical studies — online private lessons once a week and group classes on Saturdays — thanks to the financial support provided by Miller’s gift. For Moore, having virtual music instruction now feels comfortable, just like his first class at Tuned-In when he was 10 years old.
“I remember being really nervous and I was like, ‘Oh man, I’m going to mess up,’ and ‘This is going to be a bunch of hard stuff because it’s Peabody,’” says Moore, now 14. “But when I got there, everyone was super nice. It really wasn’t too hard at all. And I was happy.”
The Tuned-In program will also be purchasing a computer for Moore, which he’ll be able to use for his lessons instead of his family’s computer. And last summer, he participated in a one-week online camp that focused mainly on ensemble theory. Moore and the other students learned about ensembles throughout history and were asked to think about their role in the Tuned-In ensemble and how they practice and prepare to be a part of it.
“I thought it was very clever how it was done,” says Carol Moore, Jayden Moore’s mother. “They couldn’t play together [in person]. But they talked a lot about how to play. And then, because of the features of Zoom, they were able to put the kids in smaller groups, so they still kept some of the social aspects. They were able to replicate camp online in a way that was very close to being together.”
By ensuring Tuned-In can flourish, Miller’s gift is also playing a part in cementing the future of classical music. “Peabody has a magical effect on a child’s life,” notes Taylor Hanex (BM ’75, MM ’78, Piano), Chair Emerita of the Peabody Institute Advisory Board and a member of the JHU board of trustees. “Bill Miller is a true giver, carrying on the work of George Peabody. His Tuned-In gift will change many lives — students and their families — and will have generational impact for decades.”