Dozens of dedicated band students at Kamehameha Schools Maui ended the first quarter on a high note with a virtual concert, which highlighted the success of distance learning during the COVID-19 crisis.
The theme of the event, “A Night Out,” reflects what many people are looking forward to once conditions improve during this challenging time.
65 high school students in the Concert Band and Jazz Rock Ensemble came together to make music, even while physically apart. The performance includes Broadway hits, rock music, and some classics from family films.
KSM Director of Bands Jess Eimen is proud of her students’ perseverance and positive attitudes.
“Our band can be whatever we want it to be and whatever we’re willing to make it,” she said. “But it can’t just be one person’s goal. It’s going to take me, it’s going to take the full ensemble, and most importantly, we don’t have a concert without an audience.”
Before the start of the new school year, Eimen drew pictures of large dinosaurs with musical notes, symbols and definitions to decorate her classroom, but she only met six of the band students in person before KSM switched to distance learning.
“I felt that being on distance learning and trying to get to know a new teacher was going to be very difficult, but Ms. Eimen made it very easy. Classes went smoothly,” said sophomore Devin Rey Ceballos-Lagazo.
During virtual classes, Eimen introduced music learning software that helped them practice at home. SmartMusic tracks each student’s progress and allows them to hear what their part would sound like with the whole band.
“Every student, individually, from week one was submitting to me the recordings of what we would practice every single week,” she said. “I’d give them feedback, and we would work on it, then we would go from there.”
Ceballos-Lagazo said he was surprised when Eimen announced that they would still have a concert – with an online audience.
“I was very happy because it shows how us students are very persistent and hard working towards our goals,” said the 15-year-old clarinet player. “It shows how we can make something good and great out of a bad situation.”
Due to audio delays and glitches that are common in real-time virtual connections, Eimen spent hours piecing together each student’s recorded audio file before adding video of them playing together on Zoom.
“I would put in the flute part, the clarinet part, the sax, and build in every single thing until we had all of our players that would represent what the full band would be sounding like,” Eimen explained.
After fall break, the students will begin gearing up for the holiday season. Eimen hopes that they’re able to reach an even larger audience for their next virtual performance.
“I know the students aren’t going to want to do Christmas music before October is over, but we’re really going to have to start hitting our Christmas music if we want our Christmas concert to sound even better!” she said.
Before the start of the new school year, KSM Director of Bands Jess Eimen drew pictures of large dinosaurs with musical notes, symbols and definitions to decorate her classroom, but she only met six of the band students in person before KSM switched to distance learning.