Passion Project for Staff Member Becomes Learning Experience for Students

Christina Lenway, the University's reading specialist and director of the Gonzaga Program, talks to communication students about her music, and they get hands-on experience as a result.
Christina Lenway and Howard Fisher
Christina Lenway and Howard Fisher

image-18.jpegChristina Lenway, the University's reading specialist and director of the Gonzaga Program, began to focus more on singing/songwriting as her kids got a little older. Now, six albums later, students in a radio production class at Scranton are remixing her songs for practice.

Lenway has always loved singing, but her parents encouraged her to take a different path. Her passion for music remained, so when her three children, two of whom attend Scranton, became teenagers she started to write again. That was a decade ago. Her most recent album came out in October.

"I write because I'm working out some existential questions," she said. "I find what is personal is usually universal." 

fdh7bqixeaexr4d.jpgShe said writes mostly ballads that tend to be "raw and emotional" and the songs are meant to have imperfections. She spoke to Howard Fisher's radio production class about just that. It was important, she said, that they understand the meaning behind the songs before they began to remix. She also talked about the process of mixing a song, including understanding the feel behind it so they might interpret, for example, when to use extra reverb.

The purpose of this project for the students is to mix different audio to "create one unified sound," said Dr. Fisher.

"We’re fortunate because Christina is a professional musician who records her songs in a regional studio, and she was willing to let us use her original masters for this project," he said. "Each student is using their perspective to craft a unique sound for the different songs."

Students learn the work of a sound engineer, he said, and Lenway will be able to hear several unique mixes of two of her songs.

"My objective in writing is always to tell a story and have my listeners feel something," she said recently. "I feel like people shy away from hard emotions and hard conversations, so I try to gently open the door for that." 

She hopes the students that she works with at Scranton feel that gentle opening of the door as well.

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