Student band The Firecrackers explodes into the local music scene

March 26, 2020 — by Kavita Sundaram and Krithi Sankar

The Firecrackers after their performance at Jazz Cabaret on Feb. 8.

Editor's Note: This article was written before the closing of school on March 13 due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Only having become a band a month earlier, lead singer and guitarist Akshar Sarvesh, backup singer and pianist Francesca Fernandes, violinist Nikhil Nair and bass guitarist Stefan Meier walked on stage to begin their performance at the music department’s Jazz Cabaret on Feb. 8. 

As they finished up their performance of the ‘60s classic, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” by the Beatles, the audience of around 100 people showered them in cheers.  

The Firecrackers, the juniors’ band, formed in early January when Sarvesh messaged his friends, looking for an avenue to perform pieces with multiple vocals and instruments.

“I wanted to be able to perform some songs that just aren’t the same soloing.  They sounded empty,” said Sarvesh.  

The band practiced every Sunday for two or more hours in the music building, playing mostly contemporary pop, classic rock, alternative, indie or older pop. They borrow a bass guitar and keyboard from the music building since they don’t own those instruments.

In light of the school’s recent closure and the county’s lockdown, The Firecrackers will not be able to practice together again for a while. However, they are trying to accommodate this change by sharing videos of each other playing their instruments and playing alongside each other’s recordings. Along with this, all of their public performances have been pushed back, so they will have time to practice together for those beforehand.  

In the future, they plan on performing at Saratoga Idol and local senior centers. The group hopes to perform more local gigs and create a social media presence. 

“When you tell someone you’re in a band, it's a lot easier for them to see what you’re doing and the impact it has if you have a YouTube channel or an Instagram page to show them,” Fernandes said, “so I’d definitely be open to creating something like that in the future.”

During a typical rehearsal, which usually takes place in the music building, the four review everything they already know from an arrangement and practice new sections of the music. 

They create their own chord progression for an existing song, combine it with the lyrics, and often improvise with their own individual instruments. 

The individual members, who are all fairly experienced with their instruments, work to make sure that every instrument is balanced and that everyone is heard and on beat. 

An unexpected difficulty that they have faced is getting written music to use.

Since most written music online comes with a price tag, Sarvesh chooses to spend anywhere from two to five hours during long weekends arranging his own music for each part and sending it to each member, rather than buying the written music.  

“I would say all the band members are proficient enough in their instrument where they can learn music well without difficulty,” Sarvesh said. “It's getting the music that is the bigger challenge.” 

Apart from finding written music, being in a quartet has also exposed the members to different aspects of music that they weren’t accustomed to before. 

Fernandes said being in a band helped improve her piano skills and her harmonizing ability. Working with a team helped her stay conscious of the different musical parts around her.  

The band has also exposed the members to different genres of music. 

“Playing different styles of music that contrast from the classical music we play in orchestra has been a pretty great learning experience,” Nair said. “I joined the band because I thought it was a good opportunity to try something new, and so far it's been a pretty rewarding experience.”

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