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Marshall Middle School music returns

The Marshall Middle School advanced symphony orchestra and band during class. (courtesy of Cameron Brown)

Marshall Middle School music returns

By Ashley Shah

After spending a year in virtual learning, the Marshall Middle School (MMS) music program is back and ready to perform. 

The upcoming winter concert was set for Dec. 9, however, this year the student musicians will present a recorded performance. 

“There’s a lot of restrictions at the moment for holding an in-person event. We would have to have the concert outside, and to get the lighting, sound and other logistics down would be very difficult,” said Cameron Brown, MMS director of instrumental music. 

The band will record the performance during the week of Dec. 6, and it will be published before winter break. 

Besides the winter concert, the music program will also have a “pre-festival” performance around late February or early March. 

“Festival is like our evaluation event where we play for a panel of judges, and they rate the quality of the performance. I like to have a pre-festival concert so that the students can get out their jitters and get a chance to perform before the actual event,” Brown said. 

The last concert of the season will be in either late May or early June. 

“I always like to have an end of the year concert where we play popular music from TV shows or video games. It’s just a nice way to end the year,” Brown said. 

The logistics for the next two performances has not been determined due to the ever-changing climate of the pandemic. Brown described the challenges the program is facing.

“All of the students are wearing masks. The wind players have to wear playing masks that only allow for their mouthpiece to be used. Percussionists occasionally have to share mallets, so they sanitize before and after using things that are shared. There is a lot of effort going into keeping each other safe,” Brown said. “I also did not hold a fall concert this year, even though I usually do with my intermediate and advanced kids. I just wanted to keep things simple and roll back into the habits comfortably without a concert on the horizon.”

Brown had to make some changes in the structure of the classes offered. Despite the changes, the Marshall music program is still up in its number of members. 

“Across all of my four classes, there are about 130 students, which is less than the usual, but it is still pretty good … overall our numbers are still high,” Brown said. 

As the music program bounces back from the year online, Brown explained his process, as well as his goals. 

“We’re taking it a little easier this year, but only because I want them to build a great foundation, rather than trying to focus on harder music,” he said. “I just want to get them back to playing, and learning to love it. My overall goal each year is just to have as many kids move onto the next level because they end up loving it.”

For more information, visit mmsim.org.