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Far Rock Library recording booth teaches music

A new state-of-the-art sound-recording booth established at Queens Library Teen Center in Far Rockaway last month allows kids to explore their love for music while enhancing academic skills.

The system, built and installed with a generous contribution from state Assemblywomen Michele Titus (D-Far Rockaway) and Audrey Pheffer (D-Rockaway Beach), includes a vocal booth, recording station, three editing stations, Protools8 and Reason software and two keyboards.

“It is tremendously interesting to the young people in the community — not just to those who want to perform, but for those who are interested in editing and working this sophisticated computer software,” said Joanne King, associate director of communications at Queens Library.

Titus and Pheffer’s $50,000 donation to the facility provides teens interested in music, using beat-making software, audio engineering and music producing the opportunity to do so while improving on their computer and math skills.

Though Queens Library is on the constant lookout for positive activities to engage teens and adults and draw them into the library, it is difficult to do so given their limited financial support.

“This is not the kind of thing libraries can afford,” said King. “It was a special legislative grant from Michelle Titus and Audrey Pheffer, who made it possible.”

The program started with a vision by Youth Enrichment Services Coordinator Lambert Shell, who spoke with teens, library staff and the community about the establishment of this new music system. Teens aged 12 to 19, and those enrolled in a pre-GED program are not only offered opportunities to use the system but are given instruction on how to use music equipment, and improve on their skills.

“The good thing about it is they actually may have done a project at home on raw materials, have the basics,” said Michael Britt, a youth counselor at the Queens Library for Teens. ”When they come into the library, they can clean up.” Britt said the opportunities at the library enables them to either work with what they have or start from scratch.

Youth may further complete a six-to-eight day training seminar to participate in the library’s music studio program. Britt noted the new system has had a major impact on children’s current and future lives. Anthony, a 12th-grader and daily user of the music booth, decided to attend a music institution after using the facility and realizing his love for music.

“He sat down to talk to me, and said, ‘Before I came in here, I didn’t know which direction I wanted to go in,’” said Britt.

Anthony, who participated in the pilot music studio program and created his own beat and song, is currently enrolled at a college for audio engineering. Several teens at the library have said they made new friends through the music program, that they are more focused in school and feel the music has made a major impact on their lives.

Because of its positive reputation and uniqueness, the facility, which has one of the only teen library programs in the nation, receives visitors from all over the world.

“The word’s getting around,” said Britt, “People are coming in, asking questions.”

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