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Perform Art Archive: North Shore News - April 24, 2005

NINE-YEAR-OLD Lydia Lawson-Baird reviews the soundtrack she's just created using GarageBand, Apple's music composition software.

NEWS photos Mike Wakefield

Yes, I'm gonna make you a star

Layne Christensen
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Every youngster dreams of becoming a pop star.

But the days of singing into a broomstick while lip-synching to a scratchy Bob Seger LP are long gone. That is so, like, 1983, your 12-year-old will tell you.

Today's teens can "become" their favourite rock star on the appropriately named MTV show Becoming, in which fans get the ultimate makeover, a chance to walk in the shoes of their favourite artist for 48 hours, and to recreate a video by their musical idol.

Or they can become an idol themselves, by joining the search for Canada's next Kalan Porter and showing up at one of the cross-country auditions for the hit TV show Canadian Idol, which has made pop star status an attainable goal for thousands of would-be music idols.

Perform Arts Studios on West Esplanade Avenue, music producer Ian Widgery and wife and business partner Miranda Widgery-Webber, a dancer and choreographer, are taking star-making one step further.

At DJ school, Ian Widgery teaches beat mixing and matching, record cueing and loop construction to kids as young as 10. But what has Widgery really buzzing these days is a new week-long program called Create Record Perform. The couple will be offering the program this summer for kids seven to 10, and 11 to 16. The kids will work with Widgery, who teaches them to use Apple's GarageBand software, loaded onto sleek-looking G4 laptops at Perform Art, and pull beats and grooves from a sound library to compose original music.

The young performers then download their tunes to an iPod and take it to the studio next door to work on choreography with Widgery-Webber. Youngsters enrolled in the Spring Break session all had ballet training, so choreography was rooted in classical dance. But anything goes, says Widgery: hip hop and pop; modern dance moves and funky music grooves.

"The great thing about this is it uses the children's originality with composing music and composing choreography. It's about the creative imagination, really."

It's also about an entertainment industry that's moved from vinyl to disk to MP3 in three short decades. "People like you and I, we all have iPods," says Widgery. "CDs are slowly gathering layers of dust. And with GarageBand, people can write their songs and post them online."

Today's teens don't have to play at performing; they have the technology to make music all on their own.