Beat Making Lab

Explore the inspiring musical mission of DJs Pierce Freelon and Stephan Levitin, and their globe-trotting Beat Making Lab. Produced by PBS Digital Studios, the Beat Making Lab travels all around the world sharing their love of electronic music with aspiring artists from developing countries, using this emerging new genre to communicate ideas of culture, health, and artistic expression. Learn about the process of digital music creation, the technology that makes beat-making possible, and the amazing artists who are pioneering the electronic music revolution.

  • The First Beat Making Lab | Beat Making Lab

    Take a look inside the Beat Making Lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, where students learn to make techno, dance, and rap music using technology as their instrument. Associate Professor Mark Katz and Adjunt Professor Stephen Levitin (also known by his DJ handle, Apple Juice Kid) explore a new method of teaching music, targetting tech-savvy students without formal training in the arts and teaching the backbones of music production.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • National Anthem Mashup | Beat Making Lab

    The DJs from PBS's Beat Making Lab take a detailed look at two of America's most cherished songs to create a whole new mashup of music while drawing inspiration from the Progressive Era of American History. Starting with the story of "The Star Spangled Banner" and lacing in elements from "Lift Every Voice and Sing" (also known as the Black National Anthem), these musicians are able to create a new, exciting remix that expresses the diversity of our nation.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Portobelo: Behind the Beats | Beat Making lab

    Go behind-the-scenes with the PBS Beat Making Lab as they bring together different musicians and artists from Panama to create a brand new track of music. Starting with Comparsa percussion, the local style of rhythmic druming, and adding touches from jazz and techno, these musicians were able to create a stunning song about life in Portobelo, Panama.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Prison Beats | Beat Making Lab

    The Beat Making Lab travels to a prison in Gamboa, Panama, to team up with their innovative Rehabilitation Through Music initiative. By using everyday objects—water dripping into a bucket, the clicking of metal, or even their own voice—the DJs are able to create music in the most unlikely places.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Accordion Trap | Beat Making Lab

    Working with students in Portobelo, Panama, the PBS Beat Making Lab offers a challenge to a local accordion player to improvise a new "trap" style of music. The team uses computer software to remix the accordion's sound, creating a unique genre of music by combining old and new styles.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Panama: Behind the Beats | Beat Making Lab

    The PBS Beat Making Lab travels to Portobelo, Panama to team up with local kids and teach the fundamentals behind mixing electronic music. By combining new-age technology with the local Escuela de Ritmo program, learn how these kids express themselves through music, dance, and rhythm unique to the Panamanian culture.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Get Your Drums Right | Beat Making Lab

    A crash course in mixing tracks, recording sounds, and expressing your creativity through electronic music with the PBS Beat Making Lab DJs. Using local sounds from Senegalese musicians and sampling real Sabar drummer recordings, watch as these professional DJs transform a bland track into a colorful and exciting new beat. It's Mixing 101!

    Grades: 3-12
  • Female Hip Hop in Senegal | Beat Making Lab

    Meet Gotal, an all-female hip hop group in Senegal, Africa as they work with an organization to hone their craft. These singers and producers team up with our DJs to write songs about global health issues and women leadership for the non-governmental organization Speak Up Africa.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Kora Riddim | Beat Making Lab

    The PBS Beat Making Lab offers a challenge to the locals in Senegal to create a beat using a traditional West African instrument, the Kora. Bringing together this classical African sound with a Jamaican-enriched dance genre, and collaborating with the Beat Making Lab's high-tech style, these Senegalese musicians were able to create some inspiring new sounds.

    Grades: 6-13+
  • Four Ways to Take Your Art International | Beat Making Lab

    Learn about being an international art superstar from the PBS Beat Making Lab. Co-hosts of the program, Pierce Freelon and Stephen Levitin, talk about the best ways to broaden your creativity to include global aspects as they report from Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    Grades: 6-12
  • Beatboxing and Building Community | Beat Making Lab

    The DJs from PBS's Beat Making Lab work with new students in Ethiopia to build community, have fun, and strengthen their communication skills. Through this fun ice-breaking game, the students learn to work together and, in the process, learn the core principles of collaboration in music and beatboxing.

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Gelila: Ethiopian Beatmaker (Part 1) | Beat Making Lab

    The Beat Making Lab travels to Ethiopia in search of new artists and beat-makers to bring awareness to health issues through music. There, we meet Gelila, a student and aspiring musician, who takes us to her home in Addis Ababa in this in-depth look at the Ethiopian lifestyle.

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Gelila: Ethiopian Beatmaker (Part 2) | Beat Making Lab

    On their mission to spread awareness of health issues in Ethiopa, the PBS Beat Making Lab takes us step-by-step through their musical process. Over two weeks, the Lab works with local students and musicians to record and mix music, while teaming with an aspiring new writer, Gelila, with a powerful message about life in Addis Ababa. As these students learn how to become music producers, they're given the opportunity to share their art with an international audience through hip hop and electronic music.

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Heartbeats of Fiji | Beat Making Lab

    Meet Ben and Masi, two Fijians brought together by the Beat Making Lab and their insatiable appetite for music. After learning from the Lab's DJs about techno music and production, these two form an instant bond through art and expression. Together they learn to build music that represents their dreams and culture, and return home with new ambitions to pursue music within their home communities.

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Trapped In Paradise | Beat Making Lab

    As part of the Beat Making Lab in Fiji, local rapper and producer Dave Lavaki tries to balance the social issues and artistic expression of Fijian rap music. Learn how these artists mixed the traditional percussion instruments and cultures of Fiji with contemporary sampling and mixing, creating a new sound unique to Fijian youth. At this mix of old and new technology, a culture finds the inspiration to push the boundaries of music.

    Grades: 7-13+
  • Bure Beat | Beat Making Lab

    Explore the Fiji Beat Making Lab experience, at this crossroads between traditional Fijian culture and new-age technology and rhythm. These artists, both from Fiji and from all around the globe, collaborate together to sample, mix, and perform amazing feats of song and dance. The Beat Making Lab travels all around the world to explore the influence that culture has on musical heritage, as well the newly emerging accessibility of producing electronic music.

    Grades: 7-13+