Band is heard, not seen at fall musical

Band plays closing song for the musical.

Band plays closing song for the musical.

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Director of “The Music Man”, drama teacher Brian Miller motions to the back of the gym. The audience suddenly sees a live feed of the band sitting in the band room is projected onto a gym wall. They applaud for the underrated performers of the night.

What made the show special was not only the talented actors, directors, and crew but also the band. Last year for “Bye Bye Birdie,” a quartet played the music for the musical on the floor of the auditorium. This year the high school band, with a few additions, played the music but not in the auditorium.

They used a system called the virtual pit.

The idea for the virtual pit came from Midamerica Nazarene University. Since they do not have a pit underneath their stage in their performing arts center, they designed their band room to have  microphones hooked up so they could play music in the auditorium through the speakers.

“Everything you saw as far as the logistics, that was all Jeff McBee,” band teacher Trent Tinker said. “He came up with the design and then we just had to figure out to make sure there were no delay.”

Chords ran from the back of the gym through the hall to the band room so that the band could hear and see the actors so they could be cued in to play.

For the most part, the new setup worked really well. As with most new things, though, there were a few hiccups.

“We’ve had some difficulties with mics going out and not being able to hear,” sophomore Harrison Spencer said.

The band did enjoy the fact that the audience could not see them. This allowed them to wear whatever they would like. The band took full advantage of this and created theme nights. The first night was ‘Merica night, followed by pajama night, black out, and hat and mustache night.

“It was difficult staying quiet for that long but all in all I think it was a very thoughtful decision. I think for the most part It worked out very well for us,” senior Emmanuel Fleming said. “I think the only thing that could’ve been different was if we had a monitor in the gym for the actors to see. It could’ve been a little smoother.”

Along with the fun themes planned, the band continued the fun by holding up white boards to communicate to one another because they had to be silent during the performance since they had microphones on in the room. It’s all fun and games until someone talks when the microphones are still on.

“Earlier today we had a matinee. Personally I was very excited, I thought it was one of our better performances for the show. So I let out a ceremonial phrase,” Fleming said. “The phrase was, “Yeah, baby” but it was a “yeahhh, babyyy” kind of sound and little did I know the mics were still on.”

The band has been prepping the music for the musical since the beginning of school.

“In the beginning going into this I thought there’s no way we’re going get any of this stuff done, but the last couple weeks we really got through all the songs and really started mastering them and putting them together,” sophomore Wyatt Browning said. “It sounded great, so we’re actually kind of pumped up to play.”

After all that work put in, people got the opportunity to hear the band’s hard work pay off in how they played.  

“Overall I think the band did a great job. Mr. Tinker and Mrs. Schrader basically carried us the whole way,” Fleming said. “So without them I don’t think it would’ve gone half as well.”

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