Part of May 2012 by

Attendance Records Releases Benefit Album

Last Thursday, some of my favorite local bands gathered at the Mohawk for an Attendance Records benefit/CD release party. Over the last six months, The Sour Notes have been telling me about their specific participation in the Attendance Records program, but it was not until the show at the Mohawk that I realized just how awesome this endeavor really is…

With all of the recent budget cuts at Texas public schools, it seems as though arts programs are always the first to go. That is where Attendance Records comes in — they are dedicated to bringing creativity back into schools by connecting teachers and students with local writers, artists and musicians. Founded by Jenna Carrens, Attendance Records provides a free, safe environment where students are encouraged to find their own voice through the arts.

This last semester, Carrens has been teaching a free class at Anderson High School with high school teacher Matt Earhart. Carrens designed an entire curriculum around teaching the students valuable lessons about the music industry. Students learn about the DIY ethos while being given an outlet to express their creativity. The class helps the students build their confidence as they also learn valuable lessons about responsibility.

Carrens worked with her class on all aspects of producing and releasing an album. Creative writing exercises helped the students learn to express themselves in song lyrics, poetry, and short stories; they also learned screen printing skills as well as how to design album cover art. While students did a majority of the work, they enlisted the assistance of two local bands — Mother Falcon and The Sour Notes — to write and perform the music. (Mother Falcon and The Sour Notes also led creativity workshops with the kids.) Using the student-written lyrics, Mother Falcon and The Sour Notes worked with engineer John Michael Landon at Premium Recording to record an album for free. Then, Mother Falcon and The Sour Notes debuted the new tracks at the Attendance Records benefit/CD release party last week. (Here is a sneak preview of one of the tracks on the Attendance Records Bandcamp page.)

Currently, Carrens can only teach one of these classes per semester; but by forming the nonprofit entity, Attendance Records, her intention is to expand the program to reach more students. Since the State of Texas obviously does not care about whether or not our youth learns about how to develop their creativity, this is where you come in because someone needs to step up and fund Attendance Records. (Attendance Records is a sponsored project of the Austin Creative Alliance, so contributions in behalf of Attendance Records can be made payable to Austin Creative Alliance — in which case the contributions will be tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.)

Feature Image: Christopher Hoyt and Layne Tanner

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