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Bay Shore High teens win VH1 music contest

Sophomores Joe Pastore, 16, of Bay Shore, and

Sophomores Joe Pastore, 16, of Bay Shore, and Sodasia Thompson, 16, of Bay Shore, won the grand prize of VH1's Battle for the Bands competition, winning a $5,000 grant for Bay Shore High School's music department. (June 12, 2012) Credit: Brittany Wait

Sodasia Thompson’s high school music teacher asked her how she would feel if music wasn’t in her life. Later that day, she went home, sat down at her keyboard and began composing a song.

“It’s not something I take lightly because music is a huge chunk of my life,” said Thompson, 16, a sophomore at Bay Shore High School. “If music gets cut, young people won’t even know what they could’ve had.”

Thompson finished the song two weeks later, and her longtime friend Joe Pastore helped put together a music video to enter VH1’s Battle for the Bands competition.

On June 4, they found out that their video, “The Power of Music,” won the competition's $5,000 grand prize, which will be used to upgrade equipment and technology in the school's multimedia lab. There were 242 video submissions this year.

After the April 27 to May 11 voting period, celebrity judges Kris Allen and Ingrid Michaelson, along with music industry experts, awarded prizes to students with the top 10 videos with the most “likes” on YouTube.

In addition, a compilation of the best videos will also be shown to lawmakers in Washington to lobby against cutting school music programs, according to the website, which collaborated with VH1 for the contest.

Thompson and Pastore’s journey started when Ted Scalzo, a music teacher at the school, assigned their music theory class a project last January, allowing students to express what it would be like to not have music.

“I’m so proud of these two. They do realize how fortunate they are to have access to all of this," said Scalzo, 55, of Setauket, referring to Bay Shore’s High’s music curriculum and equipment.

Pastore, who had been friends with Thompson since the fourth grade, jumped at the chance to work with her on the music video.

“Music is my entire life. I write and I jam with my friends after school,” said Pastore, 16, a sophomore at the high school. “There’s nothing better than exploring what music can do for you.”

Since the beginning, Pastore spent almost everyday after school digging through video footage of musical performances at the school, along with putting together the video.

Thompson credits her success to Bay Shore High School’s multimedia lab, equipped with 24 Mac computers, just as many piano keyboards and a recording studio.

Scalzo said Sodasia and Pastore were among the many students using computers that couldn’t handle advanced multimedia projects before the school upgraded the equipment last October.

Sodasia is already looking forward to a new opportunity. She wants to spend this summer at Berklee College of Music in Boston at a five-week program run by music industry executives, learning how to mix, produce and market her own music. She just needs to come up with the money to pay for it.

“I’m still figuring it out, but I’d like to become a [music] producer,” Sodasia said. “There are a lot of kids who deserve to be heard and we need to make sure all their voices are heard or else there will be no music left.”

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