Posted by: St. Paul | 03/12/2012

Chronicles of a music teacher part 1

One of my after-school students mentions to me in a recent conversation: “all we do in music class at the “high” is listen to the radio.” My reply was, “Are you serious?” “Yeah, I’m dead serious,” the student chimes back. “I just want to play an instrument, that’s all.”

In such a time period, we live in a society where jobs are hard to come by, especially jobs in the arts. Teachers of the arts especially should have a passion for what they do and bring a sense of stimulation and creativity to the table. It doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t help but SMH.


I would have posted these videos sooner, but I didn’t know they existed until recently. They were created back in the summer of 2009, and feature students at EducationWorks summer program at Germantown High School. Topics include teen pregnancy, police brutality, and violence.

Back in January, I was a part of a creative recording workshop that took place on the campus of UPenn, in which I engineered the recording session. I must say that it was a pleasure working with such great talent, and a blessing to be captured in the footage that was filmed by Outbreak Creative Group as a part of their ongoing series, Frontline Philly. Link up with Outbreak.

This particular video highlights one of the Philly Youth Poetry Movement’s Dream Big Literary Arts Festival workshops facilitated by Blackboard Labs, a non-profit that works to educate and mentor youth through hip-hop.

You can check the video out here.
Source: Outbreak Creative Group

Posted by: St. Paul | 10/21/2010


Just a short post.  I’ve been toying around with the idea of marketing the youth’s music to the blog talk radio networks.  It’s a quick way to get recognition for what the youth are doing.  The one I’m fooling around with now is  It’s a great site.

Posted by: St. Paul | 06/24/2010

New Music On BandCamp

I recently built a bandcamp site that hosts some of the more recent recording projects that I’ve been working on with the youth. There are some very interesting topics that the youth have tackled such as dealing with the judicial system, teenage drama, drugs, skipping school and remembering loved ones,   Please note that I put up our previous years work as well, so there’s a lot of music to be heard.  These particular students attend Youth Services Alternatives (YSA), a non profit organization that serves South Eastern PA. Click here, to give those tracks a listen.

One of the standout songs from this years release is the song I Don’t Want to Die Young, which talks about the realities of what “at risk” youth go through.  The chorus challenges the peer pressure of being associated with a gang, that the idea of “coolness” can be disassociated from gang violence.  There are many children who feel that they have to be a part of something, which is natural.  Many times they are attracted to the violence, because that is what they are programmed to enjoy, through the media which continually perpetuates this madness, and what goes on in their hood, but I digress.  Below is the Chorus of the song:

I can be cool with out a knife or a gun.
I Don’t want to die young
I want to got to school and just have some fun
I Don’t want to die young
My friends make dumb mistakes I want to be the smart one
I Don’t want to die young yeah….

I Don’t Want to Die Young is  is telling the youth to focus on making better progress by aligning with the right people (ie. teachers and mentors), instead of focusing on hanging with the negative element. (ie gangs, the wrong kids)  Doing these things will increase your self esteem, and add years to your life expectancy.

In the recent months, I’ve been approached by quite a few people who have expressed collaborating on an international musical project with our students and youth that we mentor.  I think it’s imperative that people who are involved with youth hip-hop programs get together to create something of a BIG magnitude.  So I’m putting it out there in the Blog-o-sphere, for any one who has anything to contribute to contact me, by simply leaving a comment below.

What am I looking for?  I am seeking out teachers and program directors who work with aspiring rappers, singers, poets, producers & musicians, as well as video folks too.  As long as you have something positive to say, or are looking to uplift yourself or the community in which you live, I’m down.  I would like to see us collaborate globally on a multi-media project (music, video, web, podcast, etc…)  that would be used as a vehicle for positive growth.

To keep things organized, I have already done  the groundwork at Indaba Music.   Check out the web link here. This link will take you to a website that I use very frequently to collaborate with musicians, rappers, singers and music producers.  In order to be a part of the crew you have to join the website.  It’s easy, and free, and we can keep track of progress of our collaborations, chat, and have intelligent discussions.  Currently, we have 13 Members representing the UK and USA (MD, PA, LA, FL).  Let’s get things started!

Posted by: St. Paul | 12/18/2009

Why I do what I do

Basically it’s all about our youth.  I’d never quit this gig, because it’s all about making positive music a reality in their lives.  Today’s sessions were a little emotional.  I’m working with a group of students at Overbrook HS in West Philadelphia who are putting the finishing touches on their song, Wrong Place, Wrong Time. One of the students, a female, was upset because the concept of the song reminded her of a situation that happened to one of her friends, shot by his own mother, in a domestic argument that went wrong.  Gun violence is a monster.  So, we talked briefly about the situation, and she said that she had been trying to block it out of her head, but as she continued to write and rehearse her part, the emotions and thoughts that came back were so overwhelming, they just broke her down.  That’s a lot to deal with as a teen, and teens deal with these issues constantly, so it made me realize the importance of this song,  for other students, who may be going through similar situations,  and how being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be life altering.

Now these students are in my class because they want to and expect to learn, first and foremost, the art of music production and songwriting.  Well, they do learn all of that stuff.   What they don’t expect is a healthy dose of reality.  Music is a very powerful force.  I look around the room and see kids nodding their heads hypnotically to the track, which is on a continuous loop.  One of the students is repeating the hook that we just recorded:

Living in these hard times, dealing with these scarred crimes

Things happen when you in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“Yo Mr. Paul, I can’t stop saying this hook.”

I said, “Good, because it’s a whole lot better than you repeating what’s on the radio.”

The creation of this song has impacted a small classroom.   Now the challenge becomes impacting the masses.

Posted by: St. Paul | 11/14/2009

EW Students at Power 99FM

While doing production classes at EducationWorks this summer, two students that I worked with at South Philly HS were recently interviewed at Power 99 FM.  J-Rock, and Dwav are 2 of the most motivated individuals that I have ever met, and they are still in high school.   After they recorded “Mr. Airline” I recall them saying “we’re gonna get this track on the radio,” and they didn’t waste any time at all.

There are other songs that they recorded.  By the way, there’ s a remix floating around.  Hit me up if you’d like a copy.

If you want to read more about the event, there’s also great blog article at The Voice of Philly.  Here’s a link:

South Philly Blogspot

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Posted by: St. Paul | 09/08/2009

Save Music Education with Sean Kingston

Save Music Education with Sean Kingston

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Posted by: St. Paul | 08/25/2009

Southern exposure – South Philly Review

Southern exposure – South Philly Review

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Kudos to the Kids in South Philly! Great article, great exposure.

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