Apply now to Sound Thinking NYC, a free summer program to introduce teen girls to music-industry careers

By Faye Penn

If you’re a high school girl and you want to work in the music business, Sound Thinking NYC was designed for you.

The Sound Thinking NYC summer program is a three-week intensive program designed for students to learn hands-on music-production and leadership skills. Lunch and MetroCards are included–and it’s all for free.

This year, the Sound Thinking NYC summer program will be offered twice: July 6 to July 24 or from July 27 to and August 14.

Deadline to apply for early decision is March 2. Deadline for regular admission is April 1.

Students visit recording studios; learn about new technologies, businesses and platforms that are distributing music over the Internet and beyond; and explore strategies to fulfill goals in life, including career exploration and college readiness.

The summer program is part of a larger initiative to offer NYC high school students a year of free opportunities to learn the tools, technologies, and different career paths that power songs, concerts, theater, and film.

The program is open to current NYC public school students who will be entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade in fall 2020.

Head Engineer Rebecca Huston and Simone Reynolds, a student from the 2018 Sound Thinking NYC Intensive Program, during a field trip to Sunnyvale Music Venue.

Re-tuning the music industry

Just 22.4% of artists, 12.3 % of songwriters and 2% of producers are women, according to a report from USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

The program launched in 2018 and is a project of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment (MOME) and Creative Arts Team at City University of New York (CUNY), in partnership with NY is Music, a coalition of music industry leaders.

“Sound Thinking NYC is part of a series of MOME initiatives that focus on increasing opportunities in the music industry for underrepresented groups, particularly women,” said Shira Gans, Senior Executive Director, Policy and Programs, at MOME. “The program empowers young people as they explore how to turn their passion for music into a possible profession in New York City’s thriving music industry, giving them hands-on experience and access to experts in the field.”

Sound Thinking NYC meets on West 31st Street in Manhattan, but there are field trips to museums, music-management companies and other industry venues throughout the city. (Previous field trips included sites like MonoLisa Studios, Downtown Music Publishing, and the National Jazz Museum of Harlem, among other locations.)

“I was able to not only learn about music production and its many steps but to see a future in music for myself, as well.” –Jasmine Bota

Experts show students what it takes to design sound for concerts and theater and how to record and produce music using Pro Tools. Women who are leaders in the industry also meet with students to talk to them about careers in entertainment law, marketing, and other jobs in the music business.

Pros who’ve participated in the program include leaders like Carletta F. Higginson, head of music publishing business development at YouTube & Google Play Music; Molly Neuman, head of business development at Songtrust; and Binta Niambi Brown, CEO & Founder of Fermata Entertainment, Ltd./Big Mouth Records, LLC.

“Sound Thinking has completely changed the way I view the music industry,” said Jasmine Bota, a high school junior from Staten Island who completed in the program’s pilot session last summer. “I was able to not only learn about music production and its many steps but to see a future in music for myself, as well.”

Sound Thinking NYC trains girls at keyboards and mixing boards to get skills needed to work in different music-industry jobs.

More free workshops 

When summer ends, Sound Thinking NYC hosts free workshops throughout the school year. Girls who attend both become eligible for paid internships at music venues like MonoLisa Studios and Brooklyn College’s Barry R. Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema.

In addition, Sound Thinking and CUNY offer Introduction to Music Technology, a free college-credit course for high school juniors or seniors. (The program is made possible in partnership with the Feirstein Graduate School.)

“New York City is a music Mecca. We have a lot of talent that’s come out of the NYC scene,” says Sound Thinking NYC Program Director Ah-Keisha McCants. “Our students are incredibly talented and forward-thinking. The work they’ll create will be amazing additions to the musical landscape we have now, whether they’re on stage or behind the scenes.”

Photos by Krista Fogle of the Creative Arts Team, CUNY

Don’t miss out! Keep up with the latest opportunities for women on Instagram @women_nyc.