CHS musicians not playing the blues... but they could
During a recent visit to Alan Combs' band class at Coronado High, a new percussion “instrument” could be heard, rhythmically pounding and throbbing over - but
definitely not in time with - the students' musical efforts.
Asked if the sound was a new addition to the score, Combs just smiled gamely and explained, “It's a jackhammer.”
A little bit later, junior Josh Brewer was snaking back to his seat in the temporary, tightly packed orchestra practice room when a slight misstep resulted in his violin bumping and winding up with a broken bridge. “I'm out for the day,” Brewer said. He too managed somehow to smile.
The 2007-08 school year has been a challenge for Coronado's instrumental music program. The construction of a replacement auditorium on the other side of the hallway has forced both band and orchestra to perform at other high schools (except for a few band gigs in the school cafeteria), to deal with intermittent noise and even to have classes relocated at times.
“This year has been quite the adventure,” understated orchestra bassist Daniel Burnett.
Mindi Loewen, the orchestra director, fell in her classroom one day. “It's kind of crowded.” she said. “I usually stay in my corner.”
But her “regular” classroom, undersized though it might be, is at least inside the music building. During a recent spate of especially impactful auditorium work, she and her classes had to meet in such temporary locales as the German room, a business room and a meeting room.
Combs' band members got relocated to the school's auxiliary gym for a while. Along with the less-than-optimum acoustics, the musicians had to share the space with PE classes. “I was trying to teach while they're playing dodgeball,” Combs said, wryly.
The students look for the bright side. “It helps us a group,” Brewer said of the close seating. “We listen to each other more.”
And there's always the thought of next year… maybe not for the seniors, for whom the anticipated July '08 auditorium opening will occur well after their graduation. But at least the alternate venues (such as Mitchell or Sierra high schools) give them a taste of the higher-quality acoustics the new Coronado facility will have; plus, a special auditorium event for the Class of '08 is reportedly in the works for '08-'09.
As for the underclassmen, the idea of a quality auditorium with ample practice space is like a light at the end of a long tunnel. “It helps to know we'll have a good auditorium in the end,” Burnett said.
All in all, “you make the best of it,” Loewen summed up. “The staff has been great.” At one point, in a temporary room, she was keeping the doors closed so as not to drown out adjacent staff activities. Instead, she was told, “We can't hear you, open the door.”
Westside Pioneer article