QUEENS — Give teens a chance.
A group of students at J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey in Rego Park spent their Friday writing songs and making music videos with the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus, a nonprofit mobile recording studio, which arrived at the school as part of its Come Together: NYC tour.
“I’m technically making my own music, what can get better than that?” said Justice Hame, 13, one of the students participating in the day-long program. “Music is my life," he added.
The bus, which has been traveling around the country for nearly 20 years, is one way Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, has been keeping her husband's legacy alive, the organizers said.
Featuring new audio and video technologies, the bus and its engineers provide students with free hands-on opportunities to write and record original songs as well as shoot and produce videos, the organizers said.
Jonathan Khaimov, 12, said he was hoping to learn how to improvise.
"I’m not that good at improvising,” he said. “I want to try to make my own music.”
About 500 students were supposed to create a giant peace sign on the school campus, but the pouring rain forced the organizers to cancel that portion of the event.
The school also received a $1,000 check as well as music equipment, including an electric guitar, Yamaha keyboard and wireless microphone set to support the school's music programs.
“This is another wonderful opportunity for our boys and girls to extend their creativity and enhance their learning experience in the digital age,” said principal Vincent Suraci, adding that the school has a very “vibrant arts program,” including bands and chorus, as well as drama and fine arts classes.
“They will sit down and create, much like John Lennon and The Beatles did when they were in their recording studio,” Suraci said about the workshops.
The bus arrived in New York City on Sept. 15 and spent the past 5 weeks traveling around local schools to work with teens but also to mark Lennon’s birthday, the organizers said.
The musician would have been 76 on Oct. 9.
While working with various students, the team produced a video which was presented during an event on Oct. 19 at the Museum of the Moving Image. The video will now be updated to include the work of the Rego Park teens as well, the organizers said.
“Music is very important and this is a great initiative,” said Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz, who partnered with the group on the project.
She also said she hoped the name of the late Beatles member may spur interest in music among local students because "John Lennon is someone that everybody knows about."
Throughout the years, the bus has visited 2,000 schools around the country and worked with about 5 million kids, according to Matthew Reich, vice president of U.S. tours and promotions for the bus.
The Rego Park school was the last stop during the bus' visit in New York City, which also included an event last month with Prince Royce at the Bronx Academy of Letters High School.
The bus was scheduled to travel to Washington, D.C. Friday night, the organizers said.