Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club: Droppin' beats and knowledge at same time

tbarton@islandpacket.comApril 21, 2012 

Dropping a beat in hip-hop music is harder than it sounds.

Getting that "boom, boom, boom" is easy. Putting it together in the right sequence with the right instrumentals so its doesn't sound like random thumping noise? Not so much.

"I think I'm getting the hang of it," Hilton Head Island Middle School eighth-grader Tyliek Smith said as he inserts beats from a snare drum, kick drum and cow bell with clicks of a mouse.

With a few more clicks he lays out a new pattern and counts out the rhythm.

The Boys & Girls Club of Hilton Head Island partnered with LOUD (Living Out Ur Dreams) Inc. to open a music recording and production suite in February at its teen center, where kids are instructed by producer and audio engineer Patrick Riley, a Boys & Girls Club alumnus.

The club raised more than $70,000 at an annual fundraising gala last year to pay for the computer lab and recording studio, which will be shown to the public during a ribbon cutting at 6 p.m. Sunday at the club at 151 Gumtree Road.

The club, which serves about 260 members each year, won national recognition last June from the Boys & Girls Clubs of America for its use of technology in extra-curricular activities, using computer software to help students learn complex math and science concepts by building robots, solving fictional crimes and composing music.

Programs also include clay animation, video-game programming, movie making and media literacy.

"Anywhere they go, technology is going to be a part of their job," club director Kim Likins said. "The more we can get technology in their hands and get them exposed to it at a younger age, hopefully, the more successful they'll be in the long run."

Riley said the recording studio "gives them a safe, creative, nonviolent outlet to express themselves."

"We use the recording arts for them to find their own voice in society," he said.

Smith, a fan of rap and hip-hop, said it keeps him focused.

"It gives me something productive to do and gives me a better understanding and appreciation for the work that goes into producing and recording a song," he said. "I don't see myself going into a career in music recording, but it's interesting to learn about and keeps me engaged. I get to learn about this new software."

Last year, 90 percent of the students participating in LOUD raised their high school GPAs the equivalent of a full letter grade, according to the nonprofit.

LOUD students also received violence-prevention training from staff at the Hope Haven of the Lowcountry, the children's advocacy and rape crisis center.

Using the recording studio empowers the teens to overcome peer pressure and encourages them to develop healthy behavior, hopefully leading to better decision-making skills, Boys & Girls Club teen coordinator Bernard Burton said.

"Our goal is to continue the mission of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry, while contributing to high school graduation rates and increasing college applications," Burton said. "For example, we have them incorporate SAT words into their lyrics."

Try rhyming lachrymose instead of sad.

Follow reporter Tom Barton at twitter.com/EyeOnHiltonHead

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Hilton Head Island Boys & Girls Club

Children of the future: Members have fun with technology at the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Lowcountry: Aug. 22, 2011 Kim Likins named director of Hilton Head Boys & Girls Club: Oct. 2, 2011

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