Anyone who’s attended the NAMM Show in the last several years has seen the big blue bus that settles in for the four days of the show in front of the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a state of the art, non profit rolling recording studio and HD production hub with a sole altruistic purpose: to bring free, hands-on music education to students across the nation. This year the bus celebrated its 15th anniversary at the NAMM Show and we caught up with bus co-founder and executive director Brian Rothschild to learn more about the bus and the technology within.
Outreach & initiatives
The Lennon Bus began traveling the nation in 1998, stopping at schools and colleges around the nation to give students the chance to create audio and video projects in a real studio setting. The goal of the Lennon bus is to reach as many children as possible through music.
“This is the continuation of John’s vision,” said Rothschild, who works closely with Yoko Ono to ensure the Lennon Bus organization continues to target the kinds of educational initiatives that will keep Lennon’s dream alive.
Rothschild explained the bus typically visits organizations whose students who have an expressed interest in music or are currently studying music, but music study is not a requirement. “There are too many schools that don’t currently have music and arts programs,” said Rothschild, who stated the bus strives to bridge that gap.
The bus reaches more than 250,000 students and makes more than 60 stops coast to coast throughout the year. It can accommodate about 20 students at a time and spends a day or so at each stop helping them create any original music, audio or video project they choose. The crew, who live onboard full time 10 months of the year, are experienced engineers and studio professionals.
Rothschild said the experience onboard the bus has been life-changing for some students, many of whom have never seen the inside of a studio nor had the opportunity to work with cutting edge gear and professionals who can help them bring seemingly lofty creative ideas to fruition. One mother shared with Rothschild that the time spent on the Lennon Bus helped her son connect with his creativity as nothing else had before.
Happy birthday–and what’s on board
As part of the bus’s 15th birthday celebration this year, the bus unveiled a new suite of notable software and equipment upgrades for 2012, including Avid Pro Tools | HDX recording gear. The bus also broadcast a live stream of its party, which featured Bootsy Collins and guests, at http://www.lennonbus.org thanks to streaming capabilities provided by NewTek and TodoCast.
Collins, who has a rich history of supporting music and arts education through his own Bootsy Collins Foundation, teamed up with the Lennon Bus in 2011 to produce an original song and music video with students in Austin, TX. He liked the track so much he now opens all his shows with it. See the video here (be warned: it’s catchy).
The Lennon Bus studios continue to be powered by Apple with new iMacs, Mac Minis, and dozens of MacBook Pros. New for 2012 will be the addition of several iPad 2s, which will allow participants in the creative production workshops to use Pro Tools Remote and Avid Scorch. NewTek and TodoCast will provide live streaming capabilities for the 2012 tour. Newtek’s TriCaster 850 Extreme with the TriCaster 850 CS will provide live switching of 8 HD video sources, discreet recording of each source in addition to program output, live keying and compression for real-time web streaming. TodoCast has partnered with the Lennon Bus to provide a roof-mounted satellite dish and high quality connectivity to facilitate live video streaming of special events throughout the year.
Get in touch
Schools and organizations interested in having the bus make a stop can get in touch with the Lennon Bus organization online at http://www.lennonbus.org or via Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/lennonbus. Engineers or studio professionals interested in working wtih the bus should also contact lennonbus.org for information.
The bus will be making a number of stops in California this month, then it’s on to the South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival. To keep up with the bus while it’s on the road, get the Lennon Bus mobile app here.
About the NAMM Show
The NAMM Show is one of the largest music products trade shows in the world. It is hosted by the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM) and is attended each year by musical instrument manufacturers, retailers, associates and their invited guests from around the world. The NAMM Show is not open to the public. For more information, visit namm.org.