Band plays first full performance

Junior Victor Acuna plays the saxophone during a virtual concert. Students have coverings over their instruments and wear special masks when playing them. (photo by Maggie Taylor)

Specialized masks for instruments, a WebEx call on display and an empty audience: all to give band students a chance to perform. On Thursday, March 4, the concert band, symphonic band and wind ensemble held a performance in the auditorium. Although individual sections had smaller concerts earlier in the year, this was the first time the entire band performed together in nearly a year.

“At this point last year, we had three concerts and were getting ready for MPA. This year, however, we are only just getting used to playing with each other,” junior Kevin Connell said. 

The concert was broken up into three sections: the concert band played first with two songs, and the symphonic band and wind ensemble followed, playing four and three songs respectively. After each section’s performance, the stage was cleared in order to allow clean air to circulate through the auditorium, a practice emulated throughout in-class and after-school rehearsals. 

While most students were able to perform in-person, some played their instrument via Seminole Connect. Although they are able to play, students like junior Audrey Li found it difficult to fully participate and play along with the rest of the band.

“Online platforms like WebEx or Zoom do not replay the same intonation or phrasing that would otherwise be heard clearly in person,” Li said. “As a musician that’s unable to play in an ensemble, I feel disconnected.”

To bring online and in-person students together, rehearsals were essential to the band’s success. They were focused on different sections of songs so band members could blend and balance their instruments together in terms of sound. Few chances were presented where everyone can be in the same room, which some found made it difficult to practice.

“It was very stressful to get the entire program in order,” Connell said. 

Individual preparation was more focused on playing and working on technique. However, senior Jacob Smith only had to polish a couple of his parts before the performance. 

“Usually I’ll just touch up on the parts that are technically hard or just require a lot of endurance,” Smith said. 

During rehearsal and on-stage, multiple measures were put in place to ensure COVID-19 safety. Instead of having arcs of chairs, the chairs were placed in straight rows six feet apart, which makes it harder to hear the band as a whole. Each student also had a specialized mask to be able to play their instrument, and there were covers on the end of the horns. Despite the barriers and differences from previous years, students like Connell were grateful to be able to perform in the first place. 

“The Kupermans have let us have a way to still play, to perform and to express ourselves despite the cards we’ve been dealt,” Connell said. “It’s an incredible alternative, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed them as an opportunity to play for people once more.” 

Although there were no spectators allowed in the auditorium, viewers had the opportunity to watch from home through a live stream on the Woof TV Youtube Channel. The concert garnered over 1,900 views, with viewers commenting to cheer on their friends and family through the chatbox. 

With a recorded live-stream, band members enjoy the additional benefit of being able to go back to a video to watch their performance. 

“It is cool to see the product of your work from an outsider’s perspective,” senior Alexander Valentin said.

During the performance, band director Brian Kuperman announced the 19 students who qualified to play in the Seminole County All-County Band. They will perform with other musicians from different high schools in the county to play in a virtual ensemble. Students submitted video recordings for their auditions in February, and were required to record a specified piece for their instrument. These students will be playing in the All-County Band. The final concert will be pieced together through editing software from individual recordings to create a cohesive performance released in the spring.