Music department launches virtual final performance after unprecedented semester of adjustment

December 11, 2020 — by Jason Cheng and Hannah Lee

Band sectionals perform pieces prepared for the end of the semester concert.

In place of the music department’s normal end-of-semester performances from different ensembles, music director Jason Shiuan decided on a single virtual concert featuring every  section of the department. 

This performance, which premiered on YouTube on Dec. 11, features the band, choir, orchestra, marching band, color guard and other small ensembles for one night of music. For the students, this full group performance is an opportunity for everyone to watch each other perform, something they have been lacking during synchronous meetings.

For the final performance, each individual student recorded an audio track and a video file, Shiuan said. Then, an appointed student editor compiled the footage and the files into one full concert.

“We want to try to emulate the in-person experience by editing all the video files to make it really interesting, fun and interactive so you can see everyone playing,” Shiuan said. “Our goal is to make the product sound like one cohesive band.”

Like others in his department, Shiuan has had to be creative with his teaching. Every so often, for example, Shiuan has asked one student to unmute and play, while the rest of the ensemble played along on their own while muted. This enables him to give more feedback to that student.

Shiuan has also split the ensemble into smaller breakout rooms during classes. Each breakout room is led by a leader to help rehearse so students can get more individualized feedback.

Sophomore Mark Liu said that having an experienced leader in each small group is important to the timing and quality of a recording. Without a conductor, students lose the visual cues and the uniform interpretation of a piece.

“Band as a whole has really just been preparing as we normally would but with an added technological side,” Liu said. “For me, the transition to online band was quite smooth, but everyone has different experiences.”

Regardless of which format — online or in-person — is being used, Shiuan looks forward to another semester of musical creativity and improvement within students. Shiuan hopes that the students’ attitudes and extra motivation can carry over into the new year.

“I’ve been really impressed with how flexible and understanding the students, especially the leaders, have been,” Shiuan said. “This mentality is such an important part of keeping music alive in this time.”

 

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