Stu2GoEdu: Paving the way for Atlanta’s future musicians

When Christian Davis first became interested in creating music while in middle school, he was at a loss of where to start. Outside of what he heard on the radio, Davis knew nothing about writing lyrics or creating rhyme schemes, let alone where to go to record what he had created. Now, after beginning a successful music career, Davis is taking the skills he learned on his own and teaching local children how to create their own music. 

Stu2GoEdu is an afterschool program for elementary school kids started by Davis, a local artist who makes music under the name De Apollo. The program is centered on visiting schools and daycare centers with a mobile studio, so children can experiment with writing and producing their own music. 

“There are two aspects to [Stu2GoEdu],” Davis said. “First is the educational part of it, and the other aspect is the service part. There’s the part where we go and teach kids to create their own music and learn to produce music themselves. But it’s also a service [we provide] as it is essentially a mobile studio, so we can go and help other people produce their stuff, whether its music or a podcast or whatever.”

Stu2GoEdu is currently working with a daycare center in Atlanta called ABC Learning Academy where kids are dropped off after school. Davis comes in on Fridays, recording equipment in hand, not only to help the kids create music but also to teach them how to produce it themselves. 

“Right now, we’re an afterschool program working with a daycare [center], so the kids get picked up from school and taken to the daycare, where I’ll come in and work with a group of 10-12 kids,” he said. “We can’t really do too many right now because all of them are just going to want to get on the microphone. So, I’ll put them in groups and help teach them how to write a song, how to stay on topic, and how to come up with a topic.”

The “extracurricular gap”

Most of the children that enter the program come from lower-income backgrounds. According to U.S. News and World Report, Georgia is the 10th most impoverished state. In Atlanta, specifically, around 21% of children under the age of 18 are living below the poverty line. 

“We haven’t quite gotten to the inner city yet, but I’d say we’re definitely working with kids from lower-income neighborhoods where they wouldn’t normally have this kind of opportunity,” Davis said. “So, I try to expose them to more things they may be interested in. A lot of them aren’t even that interested in going to college. I like to open up and not tell them where to go or what to do. I like to give them more knowledge of what is out there.” 

The increasing cost of afterschool programs makes it more difficult for children from lower-income families to participate, and studies have found that extracurricular activity most often leads to success later in life.

“Well, the idea and plan are already kind of there, but we’re currently in the process of getting accepted as a nonprofit and just trying to expand it more,” Davis said. “I don’t really want to have to charge schools for it or anything. We just want to get it out there and get it to the people. So, we’re really just in the process of putting that all together and building relationships with schools.”

Bringing the service to schools and daycare centers allows kids from all backgrounds to participate, even if they are just experimenting with music as an interest.

“I don’t necessarily want to tell them what to make, but I want to teach them how to make their music more refined,” Davis said. “Even if it’s just something to spark interest, teaching them how to come up with rhyme schemes, it still gives them a skill that they can refine.”

The benefits

Even if music does not become a long-lasting interest, the benefits of kids learning about music are extensive. Research has shown that it can often help kids perform better academically because they are learning to recognize patterns and beats in music, as well as improving memory skills. Children who participate in music-based extracurriculars also learn better social skills and experience improved self-esteem. 

“I think that kids kind of gravitate towards music because they hear the radio and get inspired,” Davis said. “Specifically, I know a lot of black kids are especially musically inclined. It seems that they know the lyrics to songs on the radio before they can even read. I wanted to make [Stu2GoEdu] more educational because kids usually find out at an early age what they’re into.”

Davis speaks fondly about observing the kids during their first experiences with recording music during the program.

“They’re always extremely excited to come in,” he said. They’re into it, and they’re excited to create something. They tend to get tired of sitting around, and they want to play with the microphone. They are often kind of taken aback by how they sound because, obviously, you don’t sound like you think you sound. When you get out the recordings and play it out loud [for them], they always say, ‘That’s me?’”

Encouraging emotional expression

Davis’ goal in facilitating their writing process is to help them learn that writing music can be a healthy emotional outlet. 

“One of the most interesting things to me was seeing what they wanted to start rapping about,” he said. “A lot of them want to start rapping about chains and buying all these shoes, but I generally want to keep it a little more educational and take it in a more positive route. I feel like a lot of the stuff that they hear on the radio is focused more on material things or disrespecting women. I want to give them an outlet so they can see that rapping can be an outlet to express themselves where they can talk about all sorts of things.”  

The future

Davis speaks about the future of Stu2GoEdu with the hope that it will expand to cover a variety of skills. 

“[In the future], I would like to have something like a recreational center, so we can teach a whole lot of different skill sets, like video production, theater production or photography,” he said. “That’s essentially the goal. We’re not there yet. But, for right now, we want to bring it to the students.”

Stu2GoEdu is still in the start-up process and they are looking to expand to several schools and afterschool programs. They are still in need of some resources and connections to head in this direction.

“More things that we may need would be equipment and building more relationships with schools,” he said. “I’m also trying to reach out to more teachers so that I’m not the only one. That would be a good start.”

Catering to all

Davis emphasized a need for more equipment so that every kid has the opportunity to record whenever they want to. With the turnout of kids that the program has seen, the program currently does not have the recording equipment that is sufficient to keep up with how it is growing. 

“We could always use more equipment,” he said. “Sometimes, we get donations from people, and I would like to expand that a bit. This program isn’t just the kids recording stuff. I’m also trying to teach them how to do it all themselves.”

In addition to wanting more equipment for the afterschool program itself, Stu2GoEdu has plans in the future to give kids a chance to acquire equipment of their own so that they can take it home and learn to produce music with it. 

“The plan is that, when we get approved as a nonprofit, that we can maybe turn the experience into a sort of competition for the standout students where the winner gets their own equipment to take home,” Davis said. “We want the kids to take something from it beyond just writing songs. We want to give them a skill that they can possibly monetize.”

The importance

Giving kids the opportunity to learn a skill and refine it is beneficial for improving academically and increasing self-esteem. It gives them something of which to be proud that they can show their family and friends. It can also give them the opportunity to make a career out of that skill.

Davis and his work with starting Stu2GoEdu help to give kids in Atlanta an opportunity that they would not normally have. Working with kids from lower-income backgrounds helps to close the extracurricular gap that tends to form between them and their peers who come from higher-income backgrounds. 

Working with these kids and showing them the opportunities that exist for them, regardless of their background, ultimately sets them up for success. With the help of Stu2GoEdu, these kids are set up for a bright future with a skill of which they can be proud that has the potential to develop into a career. 

To learn more about Stu2GoEdu:

Christian’s Instagram: @deapollomusic

Stu2Go’s Instagram: @stu2go