Sounds of Learning


Liner notes:

The Sounds of Learning CD is the culmination of a 6-week collaboration between sixth graders from Annandale Elementary School and students of Occidental College enrolled in MUSIC 112 Digital Music-Cultures. What began as an idea modeled afterRadio Diaries, a citizen radio documentary project, the Sounds of Learning project transformed into a multifaceted engagement during which students from both groups learned through the close listening of sounds and spaces in their everyday life. Learning was reciprocal: one one hand, the sixth graders acquired the technical skills to record audio materials and engaged in creative modes of self-expression; the college students, on the other hand, gained hands-on experiences of ethnographic research (study of social interactions and cultural meaning) and mentorship.

At the first encounter, in Annandale’s auditorium, the Occidental students introduced themselves, taught their sixth grade partners how to use an audio recording device, and gave suggestions as to what to record. From here, the sixth graders individually took the equipment into contexts of their choosing to record sounds and dialogues they thought were meaningful to their learning and identity, while applying their newly acquired skills. Once the recording equipment returned to Oxy, the Occidental students listened to the sounds and prepared interview questions related to the recordings. When the Annandale students visited Oxy, the two groups collaborated once again to review the recordings and brainstorm ideas; production was underway. After a few weeks of editing, arranging, and composing, the Occidental students revisited Annandale to premiere their final works to their partners.

The sonic outcome of this creative partnership is presented here on this CD. The pieces are stylistically diverse, ranging from soundwalk to remix, from hip hop beat to audio documentary. They articulate the life and culture of a sixth grader in Northeast Los Angeles. They walk us through the youth’s school life, pop culture, and life at home. More than just a music project, these tracks tell stories of identity, heritage, transformation, and empowerment. We hope that you enjoy this compelling collection of “Sounds of Learning.”

— CJ Cruz, class of 2014; Professor Wendy Hsu

course site:

Annandale student: Aileen, Alejandra, Alexis, Angel, Annette, Anthony, Ausencio, Breanna, Connie, Daniela, Deseree, Faith, Felicity, Francisco, Jacqueline, Jazmine, Joceyln, Kalani, Katherine, Liliana, Linnett, Mauricio, Michael, Roxana

Occidental students: Mackenzie Angell, Jorge Azanza, Redd Barua-Norton, Koryeh Cobb, Christian J. Cruz, Luke Davis, Sean Embrey-Stine, Alexander Flood-Bryzman, Adam Goldfaden, Matthew Guerero, Danten Inouye, Rounak Maiti, Patrick Maloney, Cole Moniz, Haley Potiker, Ashton Reid, Jon Sarris, Alissa Shear, Michael Stevenson, Chad Tanioka, James Thompson, Asa Welch, Harrison Yeary, Kyle Yee, and Stefanie Young

Acknowledgements: Mrs. Lulu Cheng, Mrs. Rosario Flores, Mr. Marco Nava, Mr. Arreguin, and sixth graders at Annandale Elementary School, Celestina Castillo and Megan Dung of the Center for Community Based Learning, Music Department, Academic Commons, and the Center for Digital Learning + Research at Occidental College.