Sound on: Middle Schoolers Explore the Art of Beatboxing
The power of voice comes in many forms. Last month, students got a taste of beats and scratches through the art of beatboxing when world champion beatboxers Mark Martin and Arabelle Luke from the Academy of Noise gave demonstrations during a middle school assembly.
Beatboxing is an art form of making music using the human voice to mimic instruments and sound effects. It originated in New York City in the 1980s and was made famous by rap music artists including Doug E. Fresh and Biz Markie.
Martin and Luke demonstrated basic skills in how to use the human voice to create complicated percussion sounds and spoke about how beatboxing helps young people find the power of their voice and how the genre has helped marginalized people be heard.
For Jamie Milward ’26, the presentation proved to be an “aha” moment. “Beatboxing was something that I had seen and thought was really cool, but never thought it was something I was capable of doing,” he said. “This taught me that many sounds are quite easy to do, but just have to be discovered.”
Middle school music teacher John-Alec Raubeson said that lessons in self-expression and teamwork like this align with the School’s performing arts curriculum. “It helps to shape the students’ understanding of themselves and their creative process,” he shared. “They practice how to take risks, support each other during moments of vulnerability, and develop a friendly relationship with mistakes.”
After the assembly, Martin and Luke held workshops for the eighth grade classes to work on lyric writing strategies. They learned how to flush out lyric ideas and stitch them together with different rhythmic cadences. “These students are now working on the eighth grade Arts Expo songwriting project so the workshops were timely and helpful,” Raubeson explained.
Lucy Vargas ’26 had a lot of fun during one of the exercises. “When we closed our eyes and created a scene only using sounds, we felt immersed and our creativity was stimulated,” she said. “Many of us created stories in our heads about what was going on, as we projected these stories and built off each others' noises.”