NYU summer program providing female students opportunity to learn about music, technology

GREENWICH VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- Rather than being at a pool or beach during summer vacation, one group of Manhattan students is spending part of their time off studying music and the technology that helps bring it to life.

A dozen middle school girls will take the stage to perform original music for parents and friends at a theater near Washington Square, with the concert marking the conclusion of an intensive seminar for girls run by New York University's Music Department.

They are all GEMS (Girls Electronic Music Stars), participants in a summer program at NYU's Steinhardt Center.

"I like how we have a lot of freedom," 11-year-old student Harriet Sowell said. "They tell you what you can do and like what you should do, but you can do your own thing most of the time."

The work is intensive, as they delve into sound production and learning about the technology that supports it.

"If you're lazy and you don't want to focus and work on music, it's better not to do it," 9-year-old student Chloe Sellier said.

It is part of an effort to introduce girls to an industry traditionally dominated by guys.

"I just want to open the door for them," said Agnieszka Roginska, who is a music associate professor and associate director of music technology at NYU. "So they can then choose the direction they want to go in."

She started this program because too few women were working as engineers and producers.

We found 10-year-old student Jahiyah Marks-Garris in a recording studio, where she was supervising the recording of a song that she composed.

"It's about police brutality," she said. "Because it's a very important topic, and not too many people want to talk about it. And I think it's a subject that needs to be talked about."

Only the most dedicated among them will pursue a career in music, but what happens at GEMS has a higher purpose.

"To teach these young girls about science and technology," Roginska said. "Through the cunning use of music."

Most of the students attend on scholarships, arranged by singer Maggie Rogers, who is an alum of NYU.

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