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CTE Success Story: Essex County Schools of Technology’s Marquese Rhoden is DJ and Audio Engineer for nationally recognized dance competition

March 5, 2024

CTE Month Success Story: Marquese Rhoden Essex County Schools of Technology Music Production Class of 2022 Rhoden has built a varied resume in the field since graduating ECST, from audio engineering to theater production. Now, he is preparing to go on his first tour with dance competition Precision Arts as DJ and audio engineer.Marquese Rhoden is excitedly packing his bags and getting ready to go on his first tour with the dance competition Precision Arts as DJ and audio engineer – an opportunity that allows him to further explore his career passion.

Since graduating in 2022 from the Donald M. Payne Sr. School of Technology’s Music Production program, Rhoden has built a varied resume in the field. He has worked in sound for Saw the Musical, was the second audio engineer for several theater productions, has installed audio-visual equipment, and more. He credits the music program, a product of the Essex County Schools of Technology (ECST), for giving him the education needed to quickly find work in the audio-visual field.

“Attending ECST has given me opportunities that few would believe exist,” said Rhoden. “The average inner-city kid is raised with the mindset that to be successful, he or she should be a doctor, lawyer, teacher or engineer. With a lack of exposure to other fields, some students struggle in their ‘20-somethings’ trying to find their niche.”

At ECST, Rhoden studied four rotating majors: music production, music theory, digital film and television production. Thanks to the education he received from teachers with industry knowledge and his own hard work, Rhoden said he was able to quickly enter the workforce.

“I soared through, practiced and studied,” he added. “With all the knowledge and hands-on experience I was given, I joined the stagehand apprenticeship and applied everything I was taught.”

The stagehand union, more formally known as the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE), is often a practical next step for ECST students in the Music Production program. The program has relationships with the IATSE that benefit students, like Rhoden, who are eager to graduate and immediately apply their skills, while continuing to learn on the job.

“The Monday following graduation, I started working at my first job,” said Rhoden. “While working at the Production Resource Group (PRG), I familiarized myself with any audio-visual gear I would come across.”

At PRG, Rhoden assisted the Public Theater with a production and decided to submit his resume to the theater’s head of audio. He soon began working as an audio technician for the theater. Now, he is using his knowledge to tour with the nationally recognized Precision Arts dance competition.

“Everything I was taught at ECST is useful and can easily be applied to the real‐world no matter the specific type of entertainment,” said Rhoden. “Cable management, cable types, how to mix, routing/signal flow, audio terminology, experiencing show runs, setting up a PA system and using your ear to analyze audio, and troubleshooting are all skills I learned at the school’s Music Production program.”

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