Druid Hills Middle School Students Shines in Virtual Band Concert

By Carla Parker

For the Druid Hills Middle School band, the show must go on, even in a global pandemic.

The pandemic forced the band members to move their concert to a virtual setting. The band held its Fall Virtual Band Concert Nov. 17 via YouTube.

The 15-minute concert featured each grade-level band and the jazz band performing a few songs. Some of the songs played were the Sesame Street theme song¬—performed by the Eighth Grade Advance Band, and a performance of St. Louis Blues by the Jazz Band. Druid Hills band director Today Milford said it was important for him to give his students a performance, even during a pandemic, because it’s a performance-based class.

“The feeling of performing for an audience is like no other. The students have the same level of pride with this concert as they would our typical concerts,” Milford said. “The result of this virtual concert was just as gratifying. Some liked this way better because they can see themselves playing and show their families from all over the country.”

Milford said more than 100 people watched the premiere of the concert. The students recorded themselves playing, and Milford combined the audio and videos together. Some students preferred not to be on YouTube, however, they are still included in the performance via audio. Milford said it took a few hours to edit the performances—a total of five videos.

“I gave the students very explicit directions that they had to follow and it made the process easier,” Milford said. “I had been doing my own trial and error with the jazz band since August to get myself and them comfortable with the recording process.”

Milford teaches 200 students. Despite the virtual setting and dealing with the challenges that come along with it, Milford said his students were still ready to learn.

“I began the semester telling them, ‘I know the situation isn’t ideal, but we are here to make music, and have fun doing it!’ We have had class for about a third of the amount of time we would normally,” Milford said. “I’ve had to become somewhat of a motivational speaker when students weren’t as motivated to practice because we aren’t in class together.

“The best part about being virtual is that we can bring in clinicians from all over the world to work with our students virtually,” he added. “We’ve had clinicians from Florida, Texas, and California work with our students via Zoom and it has been almost as effective as them being face-to-face but much more convenient.”

To view the full virtual concert, visit Youtube.