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Fourth-Graders Meet the Top 40 : Children’s Museum Demystifies the Recording Studio

Standing next to singer Carole King in a recording studio, 10-year-old Carie Rogers tapped her fingers to the beat on the synthesizer the singer played.

The blond fourth-grader put her index finger to her chin and watched intently as King pressed buttons to create the sound mimicking different instruments.

Then Carie, wearing blue jeans and a blue striped blouse with a white ruffled front, nodded that she understood the synthesizer as King accompanied the instrument in her strong, warm alto.

Carie Rogers was part of two small groups of children who celebrated the opening of a recording studio at the downtown Los Angeles Children’s Museum a few days ago.

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King flew in from her Idaho ranch to demonstrate the equipment to youngsters from the Mission Bell Elementary School in Glen Avon near Riverside.

The singer, whose 1971 “Tapestry” album has sold 20 million copies, according to her producer, Lou Adler, appeared at Adler’s request.

$80,000 in Equipment Donated

Adler donated $80,000 in equipment for the exhibit, where guides help children use microphones, an elaborate recording console and cassettes to record music.

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The curly-haired King showed the students how it’s done, recording drum, piano and vocal layers of a song.

After demonstrating the synthesizer in the studio, she took Rogers and six other children into a control booth on the other side of a glass panel, where she programmed drum sounds on a machine.

When an engineer transferred the sounds to a tape, she returned to the studio and the synthesizer to play a song she had written.

Then she sang. The children performed the chorus, wrinkling their noses and holding their faces in their hands, smiling, when they heard the replay.

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Surprised the Youngsters

The equipment they saw surprised the youngsters, who like music.

Rogers, who plays the clarinet, said she learned that “bands don’t just have drums and people. They have machines.”

Red-haired Chris Karwacky, 9, agreed.

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“You have to have special equipment to perform,” said the fourth-grader, his face lined with red from a museum bench where youngsters paint themselves.

“There’s a little machine that plays the drums and nobody’s inside of it. . . . The synthesizer played the flute and the organ and a lot of things that I didn’t know it could.”

King, who has four children, enjoyed seeing happy, shrieking children at the museum go from sitting at the wheel of a street sweeper to a shadow box, where cameras recorded their silhouettes on the walls.

Wearing blue jeans and a blue, white, pink and fuchsia argyle sweater, she said the workshop for the new exhibit went “as well as anyone could hope. The children were really enthusiastic.

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“It took the mystery out of recording and involved the children in the process,” she said. “It did all the things this museum stands for.”

Adler donated the exhibit after his sons, now 12 and 7, visited the museum two years ago. Exhibits at that time explained television and other mediums, he said, but nothing about records.

“Most people have seen movies made,” said the bearded producer, wearing a black T-shirt with a picture of a colorful synthesizer console.

”. . . They (children) are so close to music . . . but the recording industry has always been a mystery, and there’s no way for the public to find out how it comes about.”

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Museum Director Jack Armstrong said the new exhibit should narrow that gap in understanding.

Armstrong said the technical aspects of the display should appeal mostly to fifth- and sixth-graders.

The museum serves children 2 to 12, however, and reaction indicates the appeal may be broader.

“I haven’t been involved with music. I want to now, though,” said fourth-grader Sydney Minter, 9, after King explained the exhibit. “I want to write music.”

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