Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.
David Williams, a resident of Davis Lake, age 16, has created a music review website. While studying at North Mecklenburg High School as a 10th grade I.B. student in the 2012-2013 school year, David took a Personal Project and made it into something great a site on which he reviews music.
The I.B. Program, or International Baccalaureate, is an international education program that arrived to the United States in 1971. According to its website, it insists on staying open-minded to other cultures and working hard to help students succeed globally in all that they do. Among the many projects an I.B. student does is the Personal Project, in which allows a student to explore their passion.
Music was David’s passion.
“Music is very important to me. I play the piano in church often and have a way of developing an emotional connection with all genres of music.” he said.
David’s music review website, called www.takingnotesmusic.blogspot.com, took off quickly.
“No more than 3 weeks after I launched my initial website, I began just writing short reviews of certain albums,” he said. “All of a sudden, the website was getting 10,000 views per day.”
The project attracted a lot of attention and, afterwards, David was emailed by Best Buy, Amazon and other retailers wanting to advertise on his website.
The U.S. Press Association also reached out to him. The company is an affiliate of The Associated Press, and they gave David credibility for his opinions and stories on a national level.
The school project opened doors for him to meet with famous artists like Passion Pit, Taylor Swift and Robert Plant about their music – after talking with their managers, of course.
David says the hardest part of creating the website was writing the HTML and coding as well as writing enough articles to keep up with viewer demand. It takes him 2-3 hours to write one article and he spends a full day listening to albums and researching. He uses Spotify, a program where you can download music. In the beginning, he would write the reviews on his own, but as the website began to grow, he began to hire others to help with the reviews. The audience can grade the reviews on a five-star scale. The latest reviewer is Jon Garst who specializes in rap music.
Lately, David has posted fewer reviews because of school.
What was the easiest part the website? Writing about the music.
“I was able to accomplish all of this mostly on my own, but I need to give credit to Ms. Mitchell for keeping me on track while staying ambitious,” he said.
Melissa Mitchell, now Melissa Quitadamo, was a little apprehensive about David’s project, but was proud of how it turned out. She said David had a creative mind and took the risks he needed.
Even David’s dad, David Williams Sr., had a turnaround from skeptical to proud of what his son’s accomplished.
David is still a part of this project in 11th grade. Can others do the same?
“It is definitely possible (for others to do what I did), however, there is a lot of luck involved. Make sure you avoid strong biases, listen to a large variety of music and learn basic music theory.” David says his experience with this project was unbelievable.
“To this day, I speak with professional musicians regularly. I made a great friend in singer Jack Johnson,” he said. “The fact I had the opportunity to spend time with my personal heroes is unforgettable.”