Changing How We Teach Music
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Eric Jao has been all over the world, DJ'ing and supporting big stars like Madonna and Wiz Khalifa. The DC native and former MCI/Worldcom network engineer is now also focusing on teaching kids about music through technology.
Eric, who started playing piano at age 7, realized kids were thirsty for learning the tech behind song-making when his 5-year-old daughter and her friend easily put together a song during an afternoon play date. With Eric’s help, they used software and other technology and their own voices and creativity. Eric, a graduate of Thomas Jefferson HS for Science and Technology, also realized older kids wanted this type of instruction when he led 25 college students through a two-hour process of using different apps and tech tools to make a song.
Eric has since launched Mix Major, a set of classes over eight weeks for kids ages 5-12. Eric turns a classroom into a recording studio and guides students through song-making as well as learning the science behind sound. It not only teaches the kids about music and technology, but also collaboration. Eric says this kind of music education, which isn’t taught in most schools, is helping kids with creativity and using technology in a different way. He also shows kids how they can continue song-making with apps like iMachine and Garage Band.
Eric is meeting with public schools in Loudoun and Fairfax to offer his program, but as it grows, he’ll have to find other instructors with his musical and technical abilities. Eric still travels every weekend to DJ under the name “Enferno” at parties and clubs—a passion he’s had since DJ'ing school functions in high school and college (UVA). While working at UUNet (MCI/Worldcom) in the late '90s, he continued to DJ as a hobby and won second place in one of the biggest competitions in the world. Soon after that, he DJ’d at a club in Orlando when Madonna’s music director stopped in with friends. The director tracked him down the next day, and Eric ended up touring with Madonna in 2008-09.