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 blog 6/4/07

The Thresholds Prize Winner
by Maddy on Mon, 06/04/2007 - 1:21am.

In last week's post, Thresholds Play-a-thon co-founder Camille Witos told the story of how one of her students, a 12-year-old named Maddy, got a chance to record a professionally produced CD at the WFMT studio by raising money for an organization that helps mentally-ill homeless people. This week's guest post tells the story of that recording session from the perspective of Maddy herself.

In Nov. 2006, I participated in a music play-a-thon sponsored by the Chicago Area Music Teachers Association. My role was to solicit donations for a piano performance in a recital along with other students. Out of all of the 100 some participants, I raised the most money! All the money raised went to Thresholds, a nonprofit organization that rehabilitates the homeless mentally ill.

As a result, I was awarded an opportunity to make my own CD at WFMT, Chicago’s classical radio station. The gift was generously donated by Jim Ginsburg, President of the Cedille Records recording label.

This past March, I went to the WFMT recording studio. When we (my parents and piano teacher came as well) walked into the entrance of the studio I thought the building was huge. We walked through long halls, passing a big room with different monitors of TV channels. Then we got to the actual studio and I thought it was just a big empty room with a piano and some rugs, but then I got to re-listen to myself in the control room where Jim Ginsburg sat the whole time and it was so cool to see the mixing board. The piano was probably the largest piano I have ever played at. The room was really just an empty room with a grand piano and some microphones. The coolest part was the “On Air” sign. It would glow red when I was supposed to play and then after Jim would talk into his microphone and tell me if it was ok, or if I needed to replay a section.

I thought it was so nice of Jim and Cedille Records’ engineer Bill Maylone to give their time for me when they probably had bigger people to record. They were both very patient with me and we spent maybe a couple hours in the studio fixing things up. I am very grateful that he was willing to give me studio time.

At first I was nervous because I didn’t know what we were going to do. I thought we would run it one time through and then that would be the final take. Instead, Jim let me play my pieces a couple times so later he could piece together the rest using my good notes to cover up my mistakes. I really enjoyed working with Jim. It was exciting to be able to actually see how Jim worked.

Months later I listened to the demo and I thought it was astounding how it sounded like I was a pro and how the sound was great quality. It made me appreciate how much time and effort that Jim put into the CD. I had been preparing for the recording for a long time, thinking that it was just going to be a one time thing where I would perform the pieces once and the CD would be a live sort of thing. Instead, it was better then I expected and I really enjoyed working on the CD and the chance to work in a big radio studio.