Music teacher Brenda Bernath and band students at Carlton Comprehensive High School have put together a project that allows students to share their musical talents for the holiday season.
Carlton Celebrates Christmas has returned for a second year and recently debuted on the school’s YouTube channel. Bernath said it’s a great way to connect people through music during the pandemic. It was also easier on the students who didn’t start band until the second block of the year, which began on Oct. 25.
“We decided to do a virtual concert again this year, partly because we weren’t really sure how quickly we could put together music for a full concert,” Bernath explained. “Students had not played their instruments since the pandemic began over a year and a half ago … and at the time when we were making the decision, the COVID case numbers in the province were also quite high.”
In 2020, Bernath invited students to submit a video of them performing a Christmas piece of their choice.
Unlike in 2020, band students were able to meet together this year for a group performance.
“Of course, we needed to do this as safely as possible, which meant using instrument bell covers, performer’s masks, and distancing players from one another,” she explained. “The bell covers and masks took a bit of getting used to and distancing made it more difficult for the students to hear one another.
“We decided to record the band in the school cafetorium, as it enabled us to distance and have a better visual of all of the players. We just flipped the situation around, so that the camera was on the stage and the students were playing from the location of where our audience usually sits.”
Bernath said that having another virtual concert was important for Carlton and the band program because it allowed them to celebrate music and share their performance in a safe way.
“It gave us something to work towards,” she explained. “Having a Christmas Concert has always been a tradition for the music program at Carlton.”
The versatility of a virtual concert is also a benefit. Bernath said the video can be shared near and far, with people able to access it on YouTube at any time.
“Family, relatives, friends, school music programs and our local community are all able to view our celebration of music. Once again we are notifying our senior’s homes about the concert so that they can share it with residents,” Bernath said.
She added that you can’t replicate the live music experience through a video, but this way seemed like the best option.
“I am very proud of our students as we had really only practiced for four weeks before recording the pieces,” Bernath said. “Some of them joined together to form extra groups and others submitted their own individual videos. This helped to add length and variety to the show. One of our own band students shared his expertise and was involved with the editing of the video.”
Bernath has also celebrated music virtually with Music Monday in May of both 2020 and 2021.
They have also been sharing the individual performances on social media via the Carlton Facebook and Instagram accounts over the last week of school before the break.