Skip to main content
2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Kevin Longwill

Kevin Longwill

Music Industry Teacher, Director of Modern Music Makers (M3)
Abington School District
Abington, Pennsylvania

During the pandemic, Music Industry Teacher Kevin Longwill started Modern Music Makers (M3) so that Abington School District students could continue to make music with their friends by recording projects using a cloud-based digital audio workstation (DAW) like Soundtrap, then sharing them with their peers. “At the time, it was an interesting concept, and many students gravitated toward it,” Longwill says. “When we resumed in-person learning, more students wanted to make and share music, but they wanted to do more like form performing ensembles or take the music they made to a new level with traditional recording, production and release.”

Longwill points out that the students are the driving force behind many of the decisions involved in the program. “The idea to form bands and to record/release original music – all came from the students,” he says. “These kids have been the inspiration behind the direction of the M3 program, and this has allowed them to demonstrate agency and authenticity in their music-making and learning. We’re excited to see where our students will steer the program next!”

When the district shifted building structures from a junior high to a middle school, Longwill was presented with a great opportunity to adjust how to handle music technology coursework. “In this new environment, our middle school offered an ‘experience-based’ entry-level approach to music technology,” he explains. “At the high school, we establish three more years of instruction, each building on skills established in previous years’ instruction.”

This tiered structure has proven to be immensely beneficial with middle school and high school students taking on complex projects in class and in their own pursuits. Currently, there are 127 M3 students in grades 9-12 and 105 in grades 6-8.

Longwill’s next step was to create a venue where students could perform for more than just their friends and family — and so, the Modern Music Invitational was born. Numerous schools with modern music programs come together and play for each other. The show also provides opportunities for non-performing students to showcase their skills at working a soundboard or handling performance elements like lighting, media, etc. “While the show itself was a fantastic achievement, the additional opportunity to create masterclasses with industry professionals, including touring/recording musicians, audio engineers and music business professionals, proved to be really impactful for the students and their teachers,” Longwill says.

He is astounded to see how the Modern Music Invitational started locally and now it is reaching students, teachers and, starting this year, future educators, from other states and parts of country.