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Youth culture is awash in sophisticated multimedia, and yet the tools to create those media at a level of professionalism that's competitive with that of the commercial sector are out of reach for most kids. The situation threatens to extinguish the spark of inspiration that drives active creation and sets the stage for a lifetime of passive consumption. But as of this summer, Minneapolis' Institute of Production and Recording (IPR) is turning the tables on that dour trend. With support from the Hubert H. Humphrey Center for Democracy and Citizenship, IPR has partnered with the Jackie Lee Robinson Foundation and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to create "Ideawerks®." Simply put, Ideawerks will provide training and professional grade audio and video equipment to Minneapolis youth via the city's park system. Sennheiser is proud to donate the high-end microphones and headphones, all with lifetime warranty, maintenance, and replacement that will support this astounding initiative. Minneapolis boasts one of the most extensive park systems in the country. In fact, no resident is ever more than six blocks from a city park! The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has constructed a recording studio and A/V classrooms that will be duplicated in several rec centers over the next five years. At each park, there will be two classes of 16 to 20 participants each (ages 12 to 18) that will use the facility intensively four hours a day, five days a week for ten weeks recurrently and twelve weeks in the summer. Initially, IPR certified instructors will instruct the students, and as the program progresses, Ideawerks will groom participants and IPR interns to be future instructors and assistants. The equipment that populates the Ideawerks studio has much in common with the well-appointed studios of IPR. "If a pro deserves the best, then the next generation deserves the best as well," asserted Andre Fischer, the Grammy-winning executive director of music industries at IPR, legendary drummer, and producer of over forty platinum albums. "Ideawerks is not a dumbing down, it's a lifting up. We want to raise expectations and frame students' work with the same professionalism we expect of ourselves." To that end, IPR, Digidesign, Avid, and M-Audio have donated computers, mobile workstations, a Digidesign control 24 digital mixing console, I/Os, and Pro Tools, Reason, and Ableton multimedia software to the project. "In my professional career, I find that almost all of my microphone choices are Sennheiser or Neumann," said Fischer. "I don't really use other mics. In preparation for Ideawerks, I knew I wanted the kids to hear that same professional detail that I expect of my own work. So of course, I approached Sennheiser." Not only has Sennheiser agreed to outfit the project with a complement of microphones that will raise expectations, but they have also backed their contribution with a lifetime warranty with free maintenance and replacement. Ideawerks students will make inspiring recordings with three e 835 handheld vocal mics, three e 604s for toms/snares, one e 602 II for bass drum, two e 614 pencil mics for overheads, and two e 609 Silvers for guitar. In addition, twenty-five Sennheiser HD 280 Pro headphones will permit both live recording and private monitoring at workstations — with remarkable fidelity!
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