South By Southwest provided a change of pace for the staff members aboard the John Lennon Educational Tour Bus. Though they spend 10 months out of the year visiting schools across the country, South By meant a three-day travel break for the staff, as they focused on giving tours of the bus at the SXSW Music Gear Expo.
The Educational Tour Bus is a non-profit mobile studio which provides students with the technology to produce songs and music videos over the course of single, eight-hour sessions.
Bryce Quig-Hartman, one of the bus’ on-board engineers, has been with the bus for three years. Hartman said he loves seeing kids get excited about making music.
“I think the best part about this job is seeing kids eyes light up,” Hartman said. “A lot of times, it’s their first time in a studio, so they’re really amazed when they listen back to their track.”
The bus often brings together musicians who don’t know each other. Hartman said seeing kids from different states or different high schools come together to make music is one of his favorite things about working on the bus.
“I love watching students meet each other through music,” Hartman said. “It’s a powerful experience, seeing them communicate mostly through music. They get to know each other by playing, sensing the energy and bouncing ideas off of each other.”
Hartman, who works on the bus with a few other engineers, said the kids aren’t the only ones learning. Though he’s a classically trained pianist, his co-workers have started to teach him guitar.
“That’s the great thing about the bus, it’s educational for us too,” Hartman said. “Literally everyone involved with the bus is constantly learning new things about running a session, about each other, about life. It’s a really inspirational creative environment.”