Twelve students and five faculty from the Oaks Christian School Performing Arts Department were part of a global learning project with The Academy of Music and Business (AMB) in Sweden. In spring 2017, they performed at the American embassy in Stockholm and attended a reception held in their honor, at which the Swedish royal family was also invited.
A week later, 12 Swedish students visited the OCS campus, and performed in Spring Spectacular in April, “Powerhouses of Rock and Pop,” which featured over 130 instrumentalists and vocalists performing songs by American and Swedish artists.
For the months preceding the concert, the students had partnered through the Soundtrap technology, but were thrilled to actually meet and work in person.
"What was most impactful about this trip was the gift of collaboration," said Catherine Matthews, OCS senior. "I've always been good about collaborating, but to be doing it virtually for months, using technology and communicating with people so many miles away was fantastic. Then to be able to execute in person with them was really cool."
“They totally wrapped us in their culture with love and our shared passion for music… something that unified us despite our language and cultures,” she said.
AMB student Ludwig Westby definitely felt the experience benefitted him, “Working with people you have never met and then having only a couple of days to practice helps you get better professionally.”
The collaboration is the result of the OCS performing arts faculty seeing how the music industry is rapidly changing in a digital age, and asking the questions "What are we preparing our Oaks students for?" "How can we update our method of music education?"
A few years ago, Oaks Christian was approached by OCS alum, Andrew Lerios, who had been connected with two men, Andreas Carlsson (writer of "I Want it That Way") and Magnus Lundin, Swedish artists and educators who were asking the exact same questions. These men were dreaming of a school in their country of Sweden where musicians could come collaborate with other musicians, hone their skills, and basically learn how to be entrepreneurs by developing their brands and marketing their talent.
They subsequently launched the Academy of Music and Business, and it immediately became a smashing success. This school concentrated on the areas of morals and ethics for artists, collaboration, performance practice, marketing, and branding. OCS faculty soon realized that Oaks Christian Performing Arts could benefit from collaboration with such a school, and so began the Oaks/AMB Pilot Project.
“What started out as an idea over two years ago became reality for our high school music students who collaborated for several months with Swedish music students. The end result was an amazing trip overseas and one incredible live concert featuring young, emerging pop artists from two different nations,” said OCS Performing Arts Chair Mary Kay Altizer.