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The Beat Drops at MERVO; New Music Recording Program Brings The Noise

Soundtrap for Music connects students to music fundamentals through songs they enjoy 

The sounds of lively conversation come in slowly. Soon, the smooth bassline drops with the drums. The sax sings sweetly, only outdone by Marvin Gaye, whose stunning entrance brings the song together.  

“You know we’ve got to find a way, to bring some lovin’ here today!” 

The teacher, Mr. Rod Hamilton hits pause and turns to his class at MERVO formally Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School. “What elements of the song did we just hear? What could Marvin Gaye have been trying to say? And how did he go about creating this masterpiece, What’s Goin On?” 

The class dissects the song to reinforce key musical concepts such as tempo, key, and rhythm, and mixing elements like sampling, remixing, leveling, and plug-ins. 

The lesson is part of the innovative Soundtrap for Music program, a music class connecting students to the fundamentals of music through songs they recognize, enjoy, and already listen to. The hands-on program is just one part of City Schools’ continued efforts to expand arts access for all students. In its latest strategic plan, City Schools’ aims to ensure that every student in the district has access to meaningful, wide-ranging arts experiences - both in and out of the classroom. With a curriculum curated by City Schools teachers, the program pilot was launched at MERVO and a few other high schools during the pandemic. Since, the program and curriculum has gained traction and can now be found in traditional middle and high schools across the district. The program is currently being piloted for elementary school at Medfield Heights.  

“When the students hear music they recognize and enjoy, their curiosity only grows. We’ve found engaged, fun, talented students asking great questions and making great music - all thanks to this program,” said Chan’nel Howard, Coordinator of Fine Arts for Baltimore City Public Schools.

To learn more about the arts in City Schools, visit