Lockhart High School Roaring Lion Band and Color Guard create special online performance for Winter Concert
When students sign up to play in the band at school, the payoff for all the hard work is hearing the thunderous applause from the audience after nailing a performance.
But 2020’s social distancing requirements has kept most concert venues quiet. For the Lockhart Roaring Lion Band and Color Guard, that has meant a lot of modified performances.
Back in September when LISD was having initial discussions about the annual Winter Concert, they realized an in-person concert as in years past was likely not an option. The summer and fall concerts had already been modified, and they began exploring how they could make the most out of an online performance.
“Kids join music to perform, to play, to be with their friends, to celebrate music in the community,” Lockhart ISD Director of Bands James Crowley said in a video interview with LPR on December 18th. “No kid signs up to be in band to perform on a computer.”
Crowley teamed up with O’Dell Bishop, the Lockhart High School audio/video production teacher, to plan the show.
The idea, according to Crowley, was to host a throw-back to the Prime-Time Christmas specials of yester-year, similar to the NBC Symphony Orchestra. They would film it at the Gerry Ohlendorf Performing Arts Center, but without an audience.
At first, the students were skeptical. Crowley said the digital natives understood the concept of a virtual show, “but the vision of putting this all together was uncomfortable for them.”
“In some ways we had to sell this to them at first,” he added.
Crowley and Bishop began to construct the “commercial” pieces by partnering with the Dr. Eugene Clark Library, the Band Booster Club, and school officials.
Once the students began to see their performances surrounded with the commercials, “they totally ran with it,” Crowley said.
From the start of the pandemic, safety has been a priority throughout LISD. Masks are required at all times on campus, even during outdoor extra-curricular activities.
Filming or not, the Winter Concert would be no different.
All band members, including those playing wind instruments, kept their masks on until just prior to playing. In unison, a two-count before the first note, they removed the masks to play.
It’s a habit Crowley said the students have been doing since school began in August.
“It was total retraining of their procedures for playing an instrument,” he said.
To maintain proper safety protocol, every time a chair, stand, or instrument was moved, it was sanitized. The musicians were seated six-feet apart, taking up nearly the entire stage. Through the magic of camera angles and tight shots, the online viewer can’t really tell.
“Our goal was to get the cameras up front and personal so that we can get a lot of faces, a lot of eyes, and kids performing,” Crowley said.
The video, which runs 31 minutes, took the team six hours to shoot. Unlike with their live performances, where mistakes are scrutinized by judges or a fickle audience, they knew they would have multiple takes to get it perfect.
The flexibility allowed for each group to continually refine their work over and over, something they don’t normally get the opportunity to do.
“They were really serious about it,” Crowley said. “They wanted to get it perfect.”
The A/V production team, the band, the color guard, students and adults who rarely work together, formed a tight bond over the hours of filming on-set together. There was no audience to erupt in applause when their performance was over—but that didn’t stop them from creating their own.
“When Mr. Bishop called cut for the final time and we were through with performances and filming, the students they burst out into applause,” Crowley said.
The video was posted to YouTube on Thursday December 17th, and has received good response. It has allowed students to share their signature concert with family members across the globe, including those who might never have the means to travel to Lockhart to see their niece, grandson, or cousin play in person.
“The kids, especially our seniors, have this memory of them, and it’s a snapshot of a moment in time,” Crowley said. “We feel really good about that part. In some ways it offers that opportunity that a live concert never could.”