Thanks to Elliot House-Kelly and Maya Leibowitz for agreeing to be interviewed!
What GVHS ensembles would you normally have participated in this year?
Elliot: Marching Band, Concert Band, Jazz Band, Competition Jazz Band, Pep Band, and Indoor Percussion.
Maya: String Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra, Concert Choir, Chorale, and Chamber Singers.
What are some GVHS music-related things you missed out on this year due to the global pandemic?
Elliot: I really missed live performances, competitions, playing at football games and basketball games, and the Memorial Day parade.
Maya: I missed the adrenaline rush of getting together to make music with other people, and I missed our winter and spring concerts. I miss making music in the school building with other people and I miss giving music back to my friends. I also missed outside performances, such as Christmas on King. Sometimes the Chamber Singers have an opportunity to sing at college level or professional sports games, and we didn't get to do that this year.
Elliot, you were a virtual student and then a hybrid student this year. What were some of the advantages and what were some of the challenges you faced?
Mr. Cohen brought in some really interesting music for us to try sight reading. He also taught us to use the Smart Music app, which allows us to play along with other tracks in the ensemble. We dabbled a little bit with Garage Band. I definitely wouldn't have learned as much about recording if this had been an ordinary school year.
We did some fun things, too, like having a socially distanced movie night in the parking lot with a giant projector. We watched Pixar's "Up."
But playing along doesn't feel as fulfilling as playing in a group.
Even though it was difficult to lug my baritone sax back and forth from school to home, to play at school, finally, was so nice. Getting together and sounding like a cohesive band -- that was great!
Without the music program, I would have lost my mind.
Maya, you were a virtual student for the entire year. What were some of the advantages and what were some of the challenges you faced?
There was definitely a sense of isolation for me as a virtual student, because naturally the teachers have to focus on the students in the room with them. It was frustrating not to have an endpoint -- such as a live concert -- to prepare for. However, Mr. Cohen hosted an open practice session on every asynchronous day and that was a great opportunity to practice at my own pace on my own thing. He gave us a lot of flexibility and I could work on some challenging pieces I've taken on through lessons outside of school.
Like Elliot, we learned a lot about recording technology. Mrs. Vogel also organized a Valentine's Day Cabaret for us, in which several of us video-recorded songs relevant to the holiday, and she also had us do some multi-track recordings. Mr. Cohen showed us how to produce a beat in Garage Band.
You are both Seniors next year! What are you looking forward to?
Elliot: I look forward to a full marching band season with an actual show! I am so thankful for Mr. Cohen -- how does he sleep?!
Maya: It will be awesome to play in a group and get that feeling of unity with the rest of the ensemble and the motivation that live performances give us. I have a lot of gratitude for Mr. Cohen and Mrs. Vogel, too. They coordinate so much and do so much for us.