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Teen builds SHS recording studio
Jeff Wynn shows the computer program inside of the recording studio that he built as part of his Eagle Scout project for the Sierra High School Band Program. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

Jeff Wynn knew that he and his fellow Sierra bandmates needed something other than what they had for recording music. 

There’s only so much trumpet that an iPad can pick up. The tiny smartphones that the kids in the band were using to lay down tracks on their own free time produced a sound straight from the 1940s – if digital sound files came from the 1940s. 

The aspiring Eagle Scout and Sierra High percussionist wanted to change all of that. 

With the help and backing of Heritage Paper, who donated all of the foam and backing necessary to turn a small practice space at the Sierra High School band room into a full-fledged recording studio, as well as his family members who helped raise and donate the money needed to purchase the equipment, Wynn was on his way to forever changing the way that his fellow bandmates recorded their tracks. 

“It’s still pretty new,” he said while pushing the button to power-up the program that records the individual tracks. “It takes a little bit of getting used to and we’re still kind of putting things together. It’s not quite there yet, but it’s almost there.”

When Wynn started it was just a simple room with a desk and a chair. Now every square inch of the wall is soundproofed, and a computer with specially-formatted speakers designed to play back just the flat sound that is recorded grace the main wall. A unit beneath the monitor allows for individual instruments to be hooked to track and record, and a computer program allows for just any sort of post-editing imaginable. 

It’s all part of an undertaking that slowly came together after the idea first came to him, and it’s all part of the process that is still educating him as it continues to mature. 

“It helps me learn a little bit more about how music works and how a studio works,” Wynn said. “Regardless of what I end up doing I want to be in a studio later on – in a jazz section, I love jazz – and as an inspiration this really helps.

“I had a lot of inspiration from the people at my church – the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints – and a lot of the people that have helped me with this project talked about how they got their Eagle Scout it gave them great life experience and leadership. This is new stuff for me to learn about, but it has kept me wanting to learn.”

From start-to-finish it took Wynn several months – asking his church community and extended family for financial assistance and finding local businesses like Legends Music that were willing to cut him a deal on some of the equipment necessary to make the studio a possibility. 

As a senior he sees it as a lasting goodbye to a program that has given him so much, and a thank you to a teacher that has been a huge part of his formative years. 

The school is also thankful for his work and dedication. 

“I think that it says a lot about their commitment to SHS and the involvement of the parents in the community,” Sierra High School Principal Steve Clark said of Wynn’s project and the undertaking. “It shows great work ethic and strong character and since we don’t always have the money to do projects like this, it’s very impressive to have something like this left for our community.”