Local high school bands are finding ways to make beautiful music this holiday season — even if it’s in very different ways than they expected.
Earlier this month, Southwestern’s band recorded their seasonal concert — performed outside, with masks made to go around instruments — and played it on YouTube so families of the students could see and hear. Sibling school Pulaski County High School is getting ready to air their winter concert this Sunday, December 20 — with more candy cane-like twists.
“We did record our in-person students the last two days (school) was in session, November 19 and 20,” said director Scott Sexton. That was true of his middle school bands from Northern Middle — 6th-grade beginner’s band, 7th, and 8th-grades — as well as the high school symphonic band. Each group was split into smaller units so they could socially distance.
Students that were learning virtually from home, however, were able to record their performances and submit them to Sexton, who made use of modern technology to bring everyone together into a single musical ensemble.
“I had to take the individual videos of the classes and combine them together,” said Sexton. “I had to make sure they were playing the same tempo so that when we sync up the videos, it would line-up, I could take the audio and make it sync together.”
The videos were sent out to the virtual students, so they could play along with their own parts and record it on a separate device.
“It was very challenging,” said Sexton. “It took a great deal of explanation tot he students how to do that. I posted how-to videos on how to make individual recordings, and had live Google meets and walked them through the process. ... The most challenging thing by far is syncing everything so the audio lines up.”
He admits it’s not perfect all the time, and there will be a moment or two when someone is off, but it still captures the spirit of the students’ love of music and the holiday appeal.
“We didn’t have the kind of prep time we normally have for a concert — we normally have another three weeks to get this together,” said Sexton. “I’m just happy we were able to get it together and share it with band families and provide an alternative to the normal Christmas concert we’d prepare this time of year.”
The winter concert featuring holiday-themed music will be about 25 minutes long with 12 pieces and will be seen on Facebook Live and YouTube Live December 20 at 2:30 p.m. The Facebook feed will be available on the “Pulaski County High School Band Supporters” Facebook page. Or got to YouTube at https://youtu.be/lW5db5oxuHE.
“We understand not everyone uses Facebook and we wanted to make sure as many people as possible have access to the concert,” said Sexton.