WIESBADEN, Germany - It all started when Owen Machuta's friends Dante and Logan wanted to join the Music Club at School Age Services at Hainerberg Housing.
Machuta, 10, would not have joined the club otherwise, and as a result he created an electronic song that won first place in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America Digital Arts Festival. To win, he competed against children at military installations overseas, and then with children throughout the United States.
"I wouldn't have joined this club if it weren't for Dante and Logan," said Machuta, a fifth-grader at Hainerberg Elementary School. "I wanted to be around them because they're my friends, and Ms. Andrea, she helped me and pointed out a few things I could fix. So I would like to thank them."
Ms. Andrea is Andrea Bethea, youth technology laboratory program associate at the Hainerberg School Age Center. "I cannot say how proud I am of him to have stuck it out and finished the song," said Bethea. "A lot of children start songs but don't finish them."
To create the song, Bethea taught Machuta how to use the GarageBand computer program on a MacIntosh computer in the computer laboratory. The song, which does not have a name, is one minute and 50 seconds long. The contest rules said it had to be less than two minutes long.
The song took him about a month to compose, Machuta said, and it was the only song he composed. He stopped going to SAS about three months ago.
Matt Machuta, Owen's father, said he plans to download GarageBand so Owen can use it at home, and he also plans to get him an instrument. "It's incredible and I'm extremely proud of the young man," he said. "He's quite talented"
Owen, who likes listening to the Beatles and Tim McGraw, said he would either like to play the drums or electric guitar. Composing the song and winning the contest has definitely sparked an interest in music, he said.
Bethea said she uses instruments in the club to teach students the basics of music, such as composition and rhythm. She teaches them how to use the digital software so children can learn how to compose music, she said.
Owen said there is a prize for winning the contest, but organizers have not posted what it is yet.
Jamie Machuta, Owen's mother, said she enjoyed listening to the song. "After they burned a CD of it, and after I listened to it the first time, I thought it was really good," she said.
Young digital artist recognized
Congratulations also go to Wiesbaden's Christopher Bispels, age 9, who was a winner at the Europe regional level of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America competition in the Photo Tech Division.
Bispels winning entry was a digitized version of himself portraying what he would like to be in the future. His award-winning photo illustration showed him as a professional soccer player.
"They had to use digital photo software to show what they'd like to do in the future," said Andrea Bethea, a tech lab program associate at Hainerberg's School Age Center. "He really wants to be a soccer player."
Bispels used Adobe Photoshop to create his photo illustration, she said.
Both boys were recognized by Col. David Carstens, U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden commander, during a presentation at the Hainerberg center Feb. 6.