Can't stop the music: Slauson holds virtual spring concert

By Jo Mathis/AAPS District News Editor

Slauson Middle School Orchestra Director Sara Gibson wasn’t about to let the annual spring concert simply not happen.

 So she created the Slauson Orchestra Virtual Concert:

“Many students love orchestra and joined not only for their love of music and accomplishment in learning an instrument but because they have gained friendships,” says Gibson. “By completing a concert virtually, the students now see that they can be together even if they are apart. There is much to improve and we will! We must. Music is too important not to create in whatever way possible.”

Sara Gibson has worn a tiara every Thursday during quarantine.

All AAPS music teachers have been committed to connecting with students and ‘making music together’ in this digital platform, explained Robin Bailey, the district’s fIne arts coordinator.

“Sara did an exceptional job of video/audio editing her students’ work into a virtual performance,” said Bailey. ” We know how important it is for young musicians to see/hear their work in the context of the group at large and we know they, their families, and the community will appreciate it very much.”

So how did such a huge undertaking come together?

Gibson explains:

Grade level concert pieces were put together by recordings from Google Classroom assignments with the Virtual Concert Guidelines. Parent permission for the use of audio and video for YouTube/social media was obtained prior to any use. Students were given individual practice tracks and a full recording to play along or use a metronome. The original play-along tracks performed by Sara Gibson and Paul Bailey were used in the final performance audio.

Audio was extracted from each and edited in Garageband using five tracks at a time in order to save disk space. For rhythmic errors, flex was used. Pitches that were incorrect, were removed and cuts were all sculpted with the volume control.

For “The Gift” and “Stay Gold” equalization, compression, and a little reverb were added to give it a better sound.

Once a Garageband project was complete, it was shared to iTunes to be added to the video later in order to save disk space. All of the video was edited using iMovie. The larger grids were created in Google Meets.

Students performed with mics on to avoid the red circles on-screen.

“I presented my screen so they could view each other in the grid,” Gibson explains. “I also conducted the piece on screen so they could follow when to start and end. Due to the lag and it not looking perfectly together, slides containing quotations and words of encouragement were added to smooth the appearance of performing. Students who could not attend the meet were added later by cropping images and layering picture-picture. Again, layers were deleted consistently to save disk space.” 

Was it all worth it?

Yes, says Gibson, noting: “This took me weeks to prepare. Probably over 100 hours was spent editing. Over 100 tracks were used and over 50 iMovie projects were used to put this together. It has all been worth it to provide the Slauson Community with a product of joy and hard work!!  `Stay Gold’ is now a piece that can be forever performed and students now see that they can be together even if they are apart.”

She says she’s proud of the work put into the production and happy with the results. The students are excited to watch it and will see it for the first time on Thursday, June 4 at 7 p.m. during a virtual watch party. 

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