Schoenbar Middle School's music department will start winter break at the end of this week with the debut of virtual performances.
Schoenbar music teacher Jamie Karlson spoke with the Daily News on Tuesday afternoon about the student's winter concert and an ongoing series of "mini-performances."
The winter concert was pre-recorded during this past week, and, as of Tuesday, was being pieced together and edited by Karlson for a virtual debut on Friday.
"The main concert is going to be all the large (performing groups) of Schoenbar," Karlson said.
This includes about 86 students across the beginning, concert, jazz and symphonic bands, as well as the choir.
Karlson's music students include seventh- and eighth-graders. The two different classes had distinct responses to the virtual format, which will differ from the large concert performances of years past that took place at Ketchikan High School and had an audience of friends and family.
"My seventh-graders, since they haven't really had a concert at Schoenbar before, this is their first performance," Karlson explained. "It feels kind of weird, just that they don't get to experience what we've done in the past, as far as big fundraiser dinners and live concerts up at the high school."
Nonetheless, the seventh-grade students were motivated throughout the project, Karlson said.
But for the eighth-graders, it's "definitely weird.
"They do remember what we did last year and it feels very different doing it as a recording. For some of the kids, they perform for an empty hall in their video recording," she explained. "So no applause, no people, except for a camera."
Karlson said there would have been more "moving parts" if the performance was live, such as taking field trips to Kayhi for dress rehearsals in the auditorium. In a typical year, students also would act as the audience for their peers during rehearsals.
"Many of the kids have not heard the other ensembles yet," Karlson noted about this year.
Even so, Karlson is optimistic about the virtual concert, especially since more people will be able to tune in and see the students' performances. This includes family members who don't live in Ketchikan or who are out of town, Karlson noted.
"So I think in ways, it's going to be a real positive thing," she said.
The concert was a graded assignment for the students, taking the place of a final project before winter break.
"They get full credit for showing up," Karlson said, adding that an exception was made for any students placed in quarantine. "But students who are here had to be in the rehearsal hall on time, in their places, and they had to perform at the best of their ability."
The concert debuting on Friday is not Schoenbar's first virtual performance — in the spring, the music department had an optional assignment where the students patched together their own performances based on what they had been learning in class, prior to the closure of schools.
The "mini-performances" is a separate project from the winter concert. Some of the short performances have already been released on Schoenbar's website and social media.
Karlson likened the mini-performances to a Houghtaling Elementary School concert staple.
"If you've ever been to a Houghtaling concert, Miss Jillian (Pollock, music teacher) does fillers in between her large groups, where students come up and perform as groups are transitioning," Karlson explained. "And this is something we've done at Schoenbar as well. ... Students have asked about being able to do that again, and so the mini-performance series is basically just short clips of a student playing a single song by themselves (or) with a friend, or singing a solo or small thing."
The mini-performances may be found on Schoenbar's website and social media pages. The concert also will be available online on Friday.