Covid challenges can’t stop AHS Jazz Band from making music


The pandemic has posed a challenge for all residents, but has been particularly difficult for performing artists, who struggle to pursue their passions while remaining isolated.

“Ninety-nine percent of what we do is play together, not private lessons on your own,” said Tino D’Agostino, instrumental director of Arlington High School. “When you can’t do it, it’s essential for learning to play.

Arlington High School Jazz Band was able to put on a unique type of performance, as more than 20 high school students were recorded performing the same song separately, and the audio and image of each performance was digitally assembled. to create the perception that the group was playing together.

The video was designed by Daniel Gorbunov, a junior who is a pianist in the group and also has experience in audio and visual recording through volunteer work with Arlington Community Media Inc.

“I know everyone was disappointed that they weren’t able to play in front of an audience, so I had this idea to record each player individually and use software to put everything together,” Gorbunov said. “We were able to record everyone in one day, we set up a program where they could come and play in Tino’s garden. Kevin (Wetmore) from ACMi helped set up the cameras and microphones and go. from there I had to put everything together digitally. “

Herbie Hancock’s song “Chameleon” is a jazz standard that all experienced musicians know. Gorbunov chose the song because he knew it was something the band could play without too much rehearsal time.

“I chose the song because people would be able to play it quite easily; originally it was meant to be kind of a test for future use with longer performances, but it ended up coming out though. although we had to publish it, “Gorbunov said. noted.

In addition to the restrictions on large gatherings, the pandemic has made some musical instruments, such as brass and woodwinds, riskier to play in groups than string or percussion instruments, as they involve the musician blowing the sound. instrument to play. For many members of the jazz band, this is a challenge.

Ben Resnick, a senior who played alto saxophone in the video, said finally having the chance to perform as a group, even in a different setting style, was gratifying after facing the challenges brought on by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has definitely been difficult for me as a musician. Playing alone is really not the same as playing in a group. There is a special feeling of joy that comes when you play in a group, when you hear your part. fit in with all the other parts Knowing that what you play has some significance in a song is amazing, and you don’t get it by playing alone, even if you are listening to a backing track on headphones while you’re playing, ”Resnick said. “The good thing about the recording project is that I felt like my part was fitting into the room. I could hear some of my classmates recording their parts before me, and I stayed to listen to other recordings after me So when I listened to the recording, I remembered all the parts that I heard, as well as my part, and I felt like I was doing part of a set for the first time in a long time. “

The video is available below or on ACMi’s YouTube page.

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Henry R. Wright