All hands are on deck — from local musicians and teachers to high schoolers and community volunteers — to bring Middle School Music Day back to Ketchikan after the pandemic brought the yearly event to a pause for the past two years.
Organized by Ketchikan Charter School Music Director Julie Cron and Schoenbar Middle School Music Director Jamie Karlson, the event is set for Friday and will whisk SMS' seventh and eighth graders and KCS' sixth, seventh and eighth graders to Ketchikan High School for a day of music education clinics and rehearsals led by community volunteers — all culminating in a concert featuring students from both schools.
In previous years, other middle schools have made the trip to Ketchikan to join the festivities, Karlson told the Daily News in a Wednesday phone interview. Past visitors have included students and teachers from Craig, Klawock, Metlakatla and Sitka. 
But Karlson said that due to uncertainty regarding COVID-19's presence in the community, Friday's Middle School Music Day will feature only local students — 25 from KCS and around 78 from Schoenbar. Students will be bused to Kayhi after the lunch hour, and will rehearse, learn and present music together through the ending concert that starts at 7:30 P.M. 
"It's been really exciting to get those kids traveling (to Kayhi), getting our arts students engaged with people that they don't know and learning the same music for a concert, attending clinics and rehearsals all together as a group ... I mean, it feels really big actually, but it's smaller in that it's just Schoenbar and Charter School this year," Karlson said.
There's a variety of clinics available for students to partake in on Middle School Music Day, and every clinic is taught by a community volunteer, which gives the students the opprotunity to see new faces and experience new mediums. 
Available clinics range from sessions dedicated to specific instruments — like the ukulele, trumpet, clarinet, drum circles and drum lines, French horn and boomwhackers — to sessions focused on topics like music and movement, choral movement, music history, instrumental improv, Native singing and drumming, songwriting, public speaking, musician's conditioning, acapella and theater.
The day is also a chance to connect middle school students with Kayhi's music programs to make them feel more comfortable (and excited) during the transition to high school, if they chose to continue learning music. 
And to emphasize that, Kayhi student musicians will be mentoring the students — many of whom will make the jump to Kayhi in the fall. 
"So we usually have high school students that volunteer to like, just help backstage and help run lights and run the show, as far as the concert goes, and the dress rehearsal," Karlson explained. "So the Kayhi percussion students are going to leading, like, a drumline clinic. We have some clarinet students from Kayhi that will be leading a very clarinet-specific clinic. One French horn (musician from Kayhi) who's going to be teaching a French horn class. And then the Kayhi vocal jazz will be leading an acapella pop clinic for our singers. So it's kind of cool."
Kayhi band director Matt Lenhard and Kayhi choir director Trina Purcell are both set to lend a hand when it comes to directing the concert, and many familiar community members will pitch in to run the clinics, such as local musician Chaz Gist; teachers Melanie Cornwall and Jillian Pollock; Elizabeth Nelson and Jack Finnegan of First City Players, and many others.
"There's quite a variety and those community members are so generous with their time and really step up to the plate," KCS' Julie Cron said in a separate interview "Some of them almost every year (are) volunteering to come help out and they really help make Middle School Music Day something diverse. ... So it's a pretty, pretty neat thing that our community puts together. We're proud of it."
"It gives them a chance to play with a larger group that has different instruments, more voices," Cron said. "Our instrumentation at Charter is different every year. You know, sometimes we have a whole bunch of flutes or sometimes we have a whole bunch of percussionists this year. We don't have a tuba or any alto saxophone. And so they get to hear different instrumentation and then they also get a chance if they're the only one on their instrument, they (the students) get to hear it with, you know, five other trumpet players or five other flute players. So it's pretty cool because they get to play with just a larger group and they get to hear a more full sound." 
Middle School Music Day also introduces the students to what playing music at Kayhi might look like when they move on to high school. They'll meet Kayhi's band director Matt Lenhard and choir director Trina Purcell.
"They get to kind of see what high school band and choir might be like," Cron said. "They get to know the high school directors a little bit. ... But it can be very intimidating for a student from a school as small as ours to sign up for a performance class, as they're thinking about it as eighth graders. So if they know the directors ahead of time, that makes it a lot easier to do." 
And for Charter School and Schoenbar students alike, it's one of the first field trip opportunities with another school that they've had since the start of the pandemic.
"The interaction with the community members is really rich when they're going to the clinics and things like that," Cron said. "They've already gotten to sign up and hear about some of the clinics that they're going to be able to take. And they know that they're going to be playing for the high school directors, which is really exciting and kind of brings them to their level."
The concert that wraps up Middle School Music Day will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday.