Founded in 2011 by the incredible Monique Julieanna, The Next Edition (NXE) is a Toronto based production company and collective that produces and publishes music, digital media and live productions. NXE’s fresh and creative content aims to entertain, educate, and inspire the next generation.
From July to October 2019, The Next Edition team ran the “At Dem”, a culturally-driven songwriting and song development workshop series for youth 13-18 years old. At Dem is a program grounded in personal growth, self-expression, and fun, and encouraged, guided, and provided a safe space for participants to be comfortable enough to expand and express their creativity. The curriculum for this project includes songwriting, storytelling, creating melodies and flows, self expression exercises, introduction to pre- and post-production, and basic music theory and rhythm. Throughout the workshop series, participants also gained knowledge on the music industry, and how to become an independent artist.
At Dem was originally created in 2016 by project coordinator History Heights, a Reggae and Hip-hop artist born and raised in Jamaica who recently moved to Toronto to expand his creative awareness, technical knowledge, and be introduced to a new market. Growing up, History shares that he didn’t have access to technical music development and therefore, was self taught. Wanting to give back and share his knowledge of music and the music industry, History created At Dem to support underserved artists through professional development workshops and opportunities.
When asked about the benefits that came out of the program, the NXE team shares that many participants came into the program “shy and timid to express their truth”, but that they “ended up building the confidence and rhythmic intelligence to express their skills. They didn’t expect to dig so deep within themselves, and it was eye-opening for them to see themselves on higher levels. It’s hard to be an independent artist if you don’t know yourself. Artists can get lost in the industry if they don’t know what they stand for, and through this program, participants have started their journey towards self discovery”.
On top of learning tangible songwriting and song development skills, NXE also share that, “Participants peaked our interest in developing a research model on rhythmic intelligence from a black artist perspective. Throughout the series, participants and leaders came together to develop our own definitions of music theory that’s more culturally appropriate and conducive to us as black artists. This project helped us to develop a new model of understanding how to teach from a more holistic perspective that we like to call the 8 intelligences (Rhythmic, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, spatial, creative, intuitive, physical)”.
So what’s next for the At Dem program? The NXE team shares that, “we would like to do this program again, and include an extra day of drum-making. The drumming workshop was the one most loved by participants- they said it ‘gave them life’. We would also like to continue to develop research on rhythmic intelligence from a black creative’s perspective”.