Technology has reshaped how we experience music in countless ways. What people might not know is that Mr. Heilbronn, one of our own faculty members, has been at the forefront of the changes in the music industry. For a select group of our high school students, each year he shares his knowledge and expertise during the Digital Music elective he teaches. The class has just one prerequisite – an interest in and love of music.

For more than 30 years, Mr. Heilbronn has been creating, editing, and producing music. He broke into the music scene as a teenager stepping in one night when the booked DJ failed to appear at a local club in his native Germany. He found his calling, and his love of music soon brought him to New York City with an opportunity to learn from music industry giant Francois K.

At New York City's famous Axis Studio, Mr. Heilbronn worked extensively in sound engineering and editing with a who's who of the most famous musicians in the business including matthias headshot-2 Beyoncé, Jason Derulo, Michael Jackson, and Mariah Carey. 

Students in Mr. Heilbronn's Digital Music elective learn the basics of measure and beat at the beginning of the class and progress to create final productions by the second and third trimesters.

"In my class, you have to start with understanding measures and counting beats in order to be able to start working on music," said Mr. Heilbronn. "You do not have to have any kind of music background. We start with understanding. Where is the tempo? Where do measures happen? Where do they repeat? Where do they build?"

Students work to mix different elements together to create one song - matching a percussion loop to a beat created, for instance. Students will create not just beats and ideas, but actual songs by trimester two and three.

"Everything goes," said Mr. Heilbronn. "We will learn how to sample; how to integrate samples into our own beat; how to create our own beat from scratch. Some students will progress to create everything from scratch, and other students will use samples and loops to create. One is just as creative as the other."

digital music

While some students in the Digital Music Elective have a deep background in music and music theory, many others do not. No matter the experience, students can be successful and enjoy the training.

"Kids listen to music much more now than ever before," commented Mr. Heilbronn. "I have a different way for them to create music in my class that comes from a different angle. We are living in a digital age, and we have the opportunity to offer a new form of music creation."

“Digital Music Production at BASIS Independent Brooklyn has been a life changing opportunity for me to explore my passion for music," said Tyler C. Class of 2021. "If you love to be creative, this class is a perfect outlet to construct whatever you want!” 

When not in the classroom, Mr. Heilbronn continues to compose and produce music.  


Lead photo: Mark Oxley for


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