You don’t need a ticket to ride the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, just a bit of imagination and a love of music.
The bus, a mobile recording and production studio, rolled into the parking lot of the Living Arts College in North Raleigh on Wednesday. Throughout the day, students toured the bus, played the instruments set up outside it and reveled in the chance to come together in a creative way.
The nonprofit bus makes more than 200 stops each year at schools, community centers and festivals across the country, offering students the chance to check out the equipment or record their own songs and videos. The name of the bus is an homage to John Lennon of Beatles fame, with permission from the late musician’s wife, Yoko Ono.
The bus includes an audio and video production room, a recording and mixing studio, and a green screen booth. It features state-of-the-art equipment – everything from guitars and speakers to software and cameras – donated by the companies that make it.
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“It has no limitations,” said Alex Cave, 19, who is studying audio engineering and design at Living Arts, located in the Wakefield area.
Cave said that not only is the bus technically impressive, but its mission to bring music to students everywhere is inspiring.
“It should be out in front of every school in the world,” he said. “Everyone needs the arts.”
Debra Hooper, the vice president and campus director of the private, for-profit technical school, said students need exposure to the kinds of environments they may work in some day. For audio production students in particular, the bus is a perfect match.
“It inspires and excites them and encourages them to commit even more to their program,” she said.
The day’s activities reached students beyond the audio production track though. Students took photographs and filmed their classmates rapping, singing and playing drums, guitars and keyboards.
Rachael Lancaster, director of professional services at Living Arts, said she was glad to see the interaction, particularly because it offered another lesson to the students in how their careers might unfold.
“All of the creative industries tie together,” she said.
Hans Tanner is one of three engineers who live on the bus and give presentations at each stop. He’s been on the bus for most of the past three years and said it’s worth it to foster a love of music in students, from those who have never has a chance to explore the arts before to committed musicians.
“Either we get to create that spark or we get to cultivate it,” he said.