“Mics-Giving” reunites members of the music community in annual tradition



Students at this year’s “Mics-giving” gave a mix of live and pre-recorded virtual performances.

The Zoom password was “turkey,” perhaps to make up for the lack of turkey at Mics-Giving this year. On November 24, students, staff and alumni gathered virtually to celebrate a common passion: music. Each year, the Brookline Friends of Performing Arts (FOPA), helps to host an open mic around the time of Thanksgiving.

This event is called “Mics-Giving” because the microphone is passed from one performer to another, the way gratitude is shared on Thanksgiving. This year, the event was held on Zoom. Many of the student performers were involved with the Music Collective, Jazz/Rock Ensemble or band. The crowd was also happy to welcome back alumni, who had created new music since they graduated. Together, students, staff, alumni and other attendees proved that it is possible to be festive and grateful during a pandemic.

Junior Claire Gallion, the Master of Ceremonies, wore a festive turkey hat, and took advantage of Zoom’s virtual backgrounds to make it look like she was sitting in a pumpkin patch. She introduced performers with their musical experience and the piece that they were playing. Music teacher, Carolyn Castellano, also helped to facilitate.

While some performers played live on Zoom, most of them sent videos of themselves playing prior to the event. The videos were edited so that each student could be seen in the same frame, the way each attendee could be seen on a Zoom call.

The first group played “Truckin” by the Grateful Dead. There were all kinds of instruments, and each student had their own way of contributing to the group piece. The sense of community stayed there for the rest of the event, shining through the screen, and making student’s faces glow in their Zoom grids.

Castellano showcased her own talent through a video of her playing a jazz song that she wrote called “Blue.” She played the guitar, drums and sang. Some of her students had never seen her in that light, and were amazed to see her talent. Castellano added her own personality into the video, by making facial expressions and zooming in on herself, when singing. This made her performance all the more lively, despite it being from a screen.

Castellano passed the mic to Alec Goldman ‘18 who was in the Jazz/Rock class when he was in high school. Goldman played a song that he wrote called “Hey Lydia” on an electric guitar. He sang, “Hey Lydia, I’ve got a math test tomorrow, but you’re the only one on my mind,” as he plucked the strings on his guitar. Goldman’s performance engaged the audience, and reminded them of the memories they made in school.

Everyone has their comfort television shows, and junior Jiayi Guo made hers part of her performance. She played the theme of “Good Luck Charlie” by Bridget Mendler, a truly fitting song for this time. “Hang in there baby, things are crazy, but I know your future is bright,” Guo sang in front of a screen projector that played video clips of “Good Luck Charlie.” These words floated through electronic devices and into the audience’s minds, reassuring them that everything would be alright. Guo’s use of the projector and clips of the television show enhanced her performance, and created a nostalgic and inclusive atmosphere in the audience.

Jonah Fox ‘19 played “April Come She Will” by Simon and Garfunkel on an acoustic guitar. It was nice to see an alumni be welcomed back so openly after graduating, as if he were still a student at the high school. The picking pattern was relaxing, as if telling the audience that everything is temporary.

The night quite literally ended with a bang. A student group performed “Jobless Monday” by Mitski, while the crowd clapped virtually, and the beat of drums echoed through electronics. Gallion appeared playing the flute, and seeing the MC engaging in the activity, rather than just watching, was wholeheartedly refreshing.
Gallion and her turkey hat, thanked the audience for their attention and the performers for their resilience. This open mic could have had different impacts on each attendee. Perhaps for artists, this was a way to express their love for music. For some attendees, it might have opened their eyes to the world of music. There is no doubt, however, that this open mic set an example for people to congregate and express gratitude, even when it seems like the world is trying to keep people apart.