The Epic Tunes of the Four Layer Players
I’ve always considered myself lucky to be part of a generation that has been able to experience the development of different musical genres such as pop and hip-hop. Not only was it a great way for youth to express themselves, but listeners also got a sample of everything from jazz to funk and rock and roll. As time progressed, I even heard the elements of a broadway musical being placed into a rap song. The only challenge with this type of music is the difficulty of reaching an audience whose generation of music primarily relied on live instruments. Today, lack of live instrumentation is much more prevalent, and is considered by many as a prominent characteristic in newer musical art forms, especially in those that are marketed towards a younger audience. It is for this reason that Michael Riendeau, an Urban Gateways artist, dedicated his residency to teaching students about how to play real instruments. He says,
“There is a growing gap between those making music only electronically, without real instruments, and those who actually perform. It is my hope that projects like these can give students a sense of competence in performing on real instruments and also a technological understanding of new media.”
The Four Layer Players at the 2013 Art for All Gala
Similar to other residencies at Urban Gateways, Michael has seen a lot of artistic growth in his students since the beginning of the program. The Four Layer Players – the drum line at EPIC Academy – continue to prove themselves a very talented group. Not only did they give a great performance at last year’s Urban Gateways Art for All Gala, but they have also been featured on a local news program promoting non-violence with their artistic talents.
Michael has presented his work to ethnomusicology PhD candidates at the University of Chicago during a symposium this month, along with similar work that he completed within the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, and The Irene Taylor Trust ‘Music in Prisons’–all accomplished through The Institute at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. His hard work in arts education and in the field of music is a great contribution that exemplifies the Urban Gateways mission of introducing the arts to communities that otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate.
Michael Riendeau and The Four Layer Players
One of the main lessons that Michael encouraged his students to take away from his residency was how to play and recognize different rhythms. He says,
“I have taken these musical arrangements and recorded them with my colleague and multi-platinum recording artist, Earl Talbot. It is my intention that this recording project will serve as a template for further curriculum development and continued creative exploration for the group.
This documentation serves as an educational tool that demonstrates the various rhythms. Students can practice and play along with these recordings.” After intensive rehearsals, The Four Layer Players were able to finalize a great piece of work titled, “Don’t Be Rude To Your Parents.” The piece starts off slow and speeds up, with a rhythm that transitions back and forth throughout the song, and forms a masterpiece that only an Epic drum line could create.
Listen to their recording here!
Congratulations to the Four Layer Players for all of your hard work and a job well done!