Z-block performing arts classes provide rewarding start to day

Lauren Liang, Staff Writer

Bright, vibrant sounds and notes crash one after another in harmony. Stage lights shine on the performers, reflecting off the instruments and into the dark crowd where the audience listens intently. With a flick and wave, the conductor cues the players and the orchestra starts, launching into an enthusiastic concert.

For most students, the school day starts at 8:20 in the morning, but for some, they start the day much earlier during Z-block. At the high school, there are three performing arts Z-block classes: Concert Band, Orchestra, and Camerata Choir.

According to Concert Band conductor and teacher, Carolyn Castellano, the band is composed of mostly of  musicians who play wind instruments

Wind or brass, you {could} play clarinet, flute, saxophone, and also percussion. If you have some experience playing, anyone can be in that ensemble,” Castellano said.

Unlike Orchestra or Camerata, Castellano explained that there are practice assignments throughout the year.

“There are three to four per quarter with a week’s notice. If it’s really awful I’ll have them redo it,” Castellano said. “I’ll say okay, this wasn’t that great, you can come and see me if you want to and fix it, or listen to my comment and you have five days to redo it and then I’ll put up their grade.”

Both Concert Band and Orchestra are non-audition, although seating auditions are used to position the students. According to Dr. Michael Driscoll, students for Camerata are chosen through an audition.

“I’m looking for good singers and sight reading. I’m also looking for willingness to work together because everything we do is working together so it’s important to have an attitude of congeniality,” Driscoll said. “Not everyone fits all those categories to sometimes somebody comes in with a really excellent voice but maybe their reading isn’t as strong as everyone else’s. You know so, it’s a mix of all sorts of different things to make the whole thing work well.”

With nearly a hundred students in Orchestra, conductor Jorge Soto said that it’s hard to choose music that will suit everyone as their experience levels vary.

“It’s hard to choose music for a young group like this. It’s hard to please everyone, you know,” Soto said. “Some pieces may be too fast, too slow, too easy, too hard; I try with my experience I try to find pieces that have something for everybody.”

Although some students may have less experience than others, Soto says that what matters more is if they want to improve.

“To be honest, as long as the student, the musician, is willing to work, I’m happy to help at any level,” Soto said.

In all of these music classes, commitment is a must, whether it be for concerts, rehearsals, and sometimes competitions.

“We do a lot more concerts and performances than the other choirs do so it’s commitment to being present for all of that,” Driscoll said.

As much as hard work and effort is put in to playing great music, having fun is also an important part, Castellano said.

“It’s just fun, it’s early in the morning, but everyone has fun,” Castellano said. “I have a good time, we have a good time. And plus we do really funny stuff at the concerts.”