Making Music together has always been the mantra for music students at St Andrew’s Anglican College.
Social distancing, isolation measures and a global pandemic hasn’t changed that, with students and staff at the Peregian Springs school recently releasing a video of a unique music collaboration.
With the uncertainty of the weeks and months ahead and having to cancel all foreseeable rehearsals and performances, music students and staff at St Andrew’s were determined to ensure it was business as usual.
After individual music lessons moved online last week, the Jazz Orchestra, which is made up of students from Years 7 to 12, were quick to take up the opportunity to move their entire weekly rehearsal live and online.
In a musical twist on the ‘zoom meeting’ trend forced on the world by the coronavirus pandemic, Jazz Orchestra Director Mr Andrew Eunson stood in a room by himself, conducting to 26 tiny blocks on a screen.
Setting the meeting up and getting together was the simple part - rehearsing and recording the ensemble live in an online environment proved more difficult, with a few technological challenges to overcome.
Different internet connections meant delay in what students could hear and see was an inevitable challenge, as well as varying devices and quality of equipment being used.
At the conclusion of the live joint rehearsal, each student also recorded individual performances of the song ‘Feeling Good’. These recordings were then put together by the College’s audio visual engineer to create a music clip unlike any ever previously undertaken by the College.
“When society goes through challenges like these, it’s important to find the opportunity to learn,” Eunson said.
“We live in a technological world where borders mean nothing today. I say this because as musicians, we collaborate with many people and while the norm is to do this together in person, my aim here was to demonstrate to our students first-hand that they should not be limited to this only”.
Eunson highlighted the importance of motivation when it comes to students practicing.
“This project created the motivation the students needed to securely ‘hold’ their part without the support of others. Something we talk about a lot as ensemble directors but rarely get to practice,” he said.
Despite the amount of effort it took in setting up, Eunson said the experience it provided for the students to connect at this time was invaluable.
“The bonds these students have with each other have been created over many years, and for our older students it is something that is incredibly important and valued,” he said.
“It was evident within a few minutes of the online rehearsal that the students were just as keen to say hi and banter with each other as they were to rehearse”.
With social distancing measures unlikely to ease in the near future, Eunson was positive about using the opportunity to think creatively.
“Term 2 will bring a number of additional exciting opportunities for music students at the College, and I’m really looking forward to extending the group’s creative expertise through this ongoing experience,” he said.
The Jazz Orchestra is one of three Jazz Stage Bands in operation at the College and normally rehearse 80 minutes per week playing Jazz, Funk, and Blues style music.