Colorado State University Presents the Rock Band Project

05.14.14_Rock BandColorado State University Presents the Rock Band Project

Join CSU Lighting Design Student for a Lighting Final unlike you’ve ever seen before!

Fort Collins, Colo. – Part final project and part rock concert, the Colorado State University theatre department presents the Rock Band Project on Wednesday, May 14 at 6:30 p.m. in the University Theatre at the University Center for the Arts, located at 1400 Remington St.

This event is free and open to the public.

As the final project for CSU’s TH264 Lighting Design Fundamentals course, Price Johnston, associate professor of lighting, sound, and projection design, together with his students present the sixth annual Rock Band Project.

Ever since the first Guitar Hero game was released in 2005, Price Johnston has been using these music rhythm video games as a way to liven up his classroom. He has found that bringing the video game into the classroom has really helped with generating creative passion in his students.

“Lighting design finals tend to be boring,” Johnston tells us. “And anybody can do a music project. So I said, ‘Why don’t we do something fun with this project?’.”

This event serves as the final project for the lighting design course, where each student is assigned a song for which they create the lighting design. The students in the course are then divided up into bands of four, with whom they will be performing these songs on stage in front of a live audience.

“When any student gets connected to a project where they feel like it is fun and they can be creative and expressive at the same time, there are no bounds to what you can assign them,” Johnston says.

Johnston has found that, with the Rock Band Project, his students grow so passionate and excited about it that they produce better work. Giving students the chance to express themselves in a way that is not exactly common in a university setting has allowed them to find the motivation to tackle a difficult final project and truly be proud of their work.

Teachers from other schools and other professionals in the field have also reached out to learn more about the program. In 2011, Johnston wrote an article detailing the program he created that was published in Live Design, a technical journal for live entertainment professionals.

Since the publishing of his article, he now gets messages every semester from teachers and professors all over the country asking about the Rock Band Project and how they can bring it to their own schools.

In the end, though, it all comes down to his students.

“I didn’t know how passionate my students would get about it, like cutting their hair or spending hundreds of dollars on their outfits,” Johnston remarks with a smile. “It’s really cool to see them express themselves in ways that I never thought they would.”

The final exam is open to the public, because it is not just a final – it is a true performance event. Students will be dressed up and playing with their bands on stage with the lighting they designed flashing around them. When watching the performance, you can expect to see students smiling, laughing, rocking, and being truly happy with the work they have accomplished.

Price Johnston is certainly proud of how far the project has come, and it is no surprise as to why. Because when his students are assigned a project they are truly passionate about, you can expect the best work to be produced.

About Price Johnston

Price Johnston’s career in design has spanned theatre, dance and opera in both the U.S. and abroad. With work in cities such as New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Moscow, Athens (Greece), London, Atlanta, St. Petersburg (Russia) and Denver, he has designed over 160 productions. His credits include the World Premiere of Jomandi Productions – Lavender Lizards Lilac Landmines: Layla’s Dream by Tony nominated playwright Ntozake Shange (14th Street Playhouse – Atlanta, GA and the 2004 National Black Theatre Festival), the Off-Broadway production of Two Rooms (Trilogy Theatre & New York), Guys & Dolls (2000 British Tour), and the World Premieres of Huckleberry Finn: The Musical, and A Southern Christmas Carol (Cotton Hall Theatre), written by award winning playwright/director Rob Lauer. Read more.

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