News

Pleasanton music teachers uplift community with virtual ensemble

'Jungle Dance' performance invites Pleasanton residents to party at home during coronavirus lockdown

Class is dismissed for the rest of the school year due to the regional stay-at-home order, but a group of Pleasanton music teachers recently came together with the power of technology for a cheerful virtual ensemble performance.

Though spring break was spent in isolation for most people last week, 15 elementary and secondary grade music instructors from Pleasanton Unified School District volunteered their time toward the creation of a video featuring the song "Jungle Dance" by Brian Balmages.

Each person selected an instrument and part to play -- or several -- and then recorded themselves performing at home. Afterward, the footage was edited during an arduous process that took several days before being posted online. The most challenging part of editing was perfectly syncing up the audio from the individual recordings so everyone would harmonize in the final product.

Harvest Park Middle School music teacher Paul Perazzo told the Weekly that he came up with the idea for the video after seeing similar projects on social media and "thought it would be good for Pleasanton teachers to do something ... and show the power of music. We just wanted to do something that would brighten their day."

Perazzo, who plays clarinet and saxophone in the video, said that because he doesn't "have the technical acumen," first-year Hart Middle School music teacher Andrew Lu was tapped for help. The duo emailed as many PUSD music instructors as possible shortly after the order was announced, and asked them all to record and send videos of themselves playing their selected parts.

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The song was chosen for its upbeat and simple melody, which made the recording and editing process much easier.

"I said let's do something fun that we could get out to the teachers quickly. My criteria was 'let's just play something'," Perazzo said about the song selection. "I probably spent an hour between working on the parts and recording. What wasn't a quick process was (Lu) -- he probably spent 40 hours putting it together last week because it's no small feat putting together a video like that."

Lu estimated that "around 36 hours of work was put into crafting the video from start to end" during his vacation, but "it gave me something to do." He said that recently it's been "pretty stressful" putting together an online curriculum for his students on short notice "but spring break meant I could not worry about that for the week."

"I was scared my spring break would be boring but it absolutely wasn't because I spent all week working on this. It made it fly by," Lu added. "It wasn't that much of a challenge, mainly because I've done (video editing) before and I'm actually doing something like this for all my ensembles at school. All six of my classes will be doing a scaled back version of this."

Most of the instruments played in the video are those traditionally seen in marching bands like the tuba, trumpet and flute, but a few stand out including one teacher seen improvising with a trash can and another using his daughter's Casio keyboard. With the shelter-in-place order still in effect for at least another month, Lu also had to flex his creative skills a little bit.

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"I played some percussion in the video, so there's some stuff of me playing a shaker I made out of a disposable water bottle and some rice," Lu said. "That's one of the benefits -- 'Jungle Dance' is very flexible where even if you don't have very specific instruments the composer calls for, you can still have fun with it and make it work."

Sharolyn Borris, who teaches music at both Hearst and Walnut Grove elementary schools, and also plays clarinet in the video, said, "None of this is ideal but we're going to celebrate what we do have."

"I think we're all just heartbroken," Borris said, listing the experiences that students will now miss this spring because of the lockdown such as the Harvest Park band members recording a live performance onstage at Disneyland and the annual joint Foothill-Amador musical that was suddenly cancelled last month.

After the video's debut last weekend, Lu mentioned "how proud I was of the project even before it went out. When it was released on Saturday night, the response we started to get right off the bat was so heartwarming and rejuvenating, a positive experience overall."

"Jungle Dance" can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/JCLXEg9PsqE

Julia Baum is a staff writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. Reach her at [email protected]

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Pleasanton music teachers uplift community with virtual ensemble

'Jungle Dance' performance invites Pleasanton residents to party at home during coronavirus lockdown

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Apr 14, 2020, 4:22 pm

Class is dismissed for the rest of the school year due to the regional stay-at-home order, but a group of Pleasanton music teachers recently came together with the power of technology for a cheerful virtual ensemble performance.

Though spring break was spent in isolation for most people last week, 15 elementary and secondary grade music instructors from Pleasanton Unified School District volunteered their time toward the creation of a video featuring the song "Jungle Dance" by Brian Balmages.

Each person selected an instrument and part to play -- or several -- and then recorded themselves performing at home. Afterward, the footage was edited during an arduous process that took several days before being posted online. The most challenging part of editing was perfectly syncing up the audio from the individual recordings so everyone would harmonize in the final product.

Harvest Park Middle School music teacher Paul Perazzo told the Weekly that he came up with the idea for the video after seeing similar projects on social media and "thought it would be good for Pleasanton teachers to do something ... and show the power of music. We just wanted to do something that would brighten their day."

Perazzo, who plays clarinet and saxophone in the video, said that because he doesn't "have the technical acumen," first-year Hart Middle School music teacher Andrew Lu was tapped for help. The duo emailed as many PUSD music instructors as possible shortly after the order was announced, and asked them all to record and send videos of themselves playing their selected parts.

The song was chosen for its upbeat and simple melody, which made the recording and editing process much easier.

"I said let's do something fun that we could get out to the teachers quickly. My criteria was 'let's just play something'," Perazzo said about the song selection. "I probably spent an hour between working on the parts and recording. What wasn't a quick process was (Lu) -- he probably spent 40 hours putting it together last week because it's no small feat putting together a video like that."

Lu estimated that "around 36 hours of work was put into crafting the video from start to end" during his vacation, but "it gave me something to do." He said that recently it's been "pretty stressful" putting together an online curriculum for his students on short notice "but spring break meant I could not worry about that for the week."

"I was scared my spring break would be boring but it absolutely wasn't because I spent all week working on this. It made it fly by," Lu added. "It wasn't that much of a challenge, mainly because I've done (video editing) before and I'm actually doing something like this for all my ensembles at school. All six of my classes will be doing a scaled back version of this."

Most of the instruments played in the video are those traditionally seen in marching bands like the tuba, trumpet and flute, but a few stand out including one teacher seen improvising with a trash can and another using his daughter's Casio keyboard. With the shelter-in-place order still in effect for at least another month, Lu also had to flex his creative skills a little bit.

"I played some percussion in the video, so there's some stuff of me playing a shaker I made out of a disposable water bottle and some rice," Lu said. "That's one of the benefits -- 'Jungle Dance' is very flexible where even if you don't have very specific instruments the composer calls for, you can still have fun with it and make it work."

Sharolyn Borris, who teaches music at both Hearst and Walnut Grove elementary schools, and also plays clarinet in the video, said, "None of this is ideal but we're going to celebrate what we do have."

"I think we're all just heartbroken," Borris said, listing the experiences that students will now miss this spring because of the lockdown such as the Harvest Park band members recording a live performance onstage at Disneyland and the annual joint Foothill-Amador musical that was suddenly cancelled last month.

After the video's debut last weekend, Lu mentioned "how proud I was of the project even before it went out. When it was released on Saturday night, the response we started to get right off the bat was so heartwarming and rejuvenating, a positive experience overall."

"Jungle Dance" can be viewed at: https://youtu.be/JCLXEg9PsqE

Julia Baum is a staff writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. Reach her at [email protected]

Comments

Denise Young
Stoneridge
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:23 pm
Denise Young, Stoneridge
on Apr 15, 2020 at 12:23 pm
9 people like this

Thank you PUSD music teachers for taking the time to create this enjoyable concert.

The PUSD music teachers have been outstanding since my 39 and 35 year old sons were old enough to be in band and they still are outstanding.

Thanks again


mariposita
Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:04 pm
mariposita, Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 16, 2020 at 11:04 pm
9 people like this

Simultaneously proud of and grateful for our PUSD music teachers. Thank you for bridging the distance between school and our kids' hearts. We all miss and appreciate you!


PUSD not refunding money
Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 2:03 am
PUSD not refunding money, Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2020 at 2:03 am
4 people like this

When is PUSD planning to return the money the parents paid for band field trips?

Their communications explaining the District plans to keep the money for parents paid for field trips is entirely unacceptable like this one Web Link


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Vintage Hills
on Apr 18, 2020 at 8:51 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
on Apr 18, 2020 at 8:51 am
3 people like this

This is the problem: because of the laws for providing a free K-12 education, a few years ago some people fought all the way to the state level to ensure everything was free, from PE outfits to field trips to summer school. “Scholarships” for families in need were also banned. Web Link

In order to be able to afford extras, like a trip for a competition near Disneyland, it was determined that “donations” for field trips and many other extracurricular activities was a way around the law. Large trips, like Disneyland, involve hundreds of students, more than one or two teachers can handle on their own. Boosters are meant to be nothing more than a pass-through for these events—not an actual donation to the organization—and they know that.

It looks like we have to go back to figuring out a better system to provide for students to have enrichment without families being left empty handed when a trip is canceled. Not all families can afford to walk away from that kind of money ($450/student at AVHS), especially during this dilemma. I hope the boosters will find a way to refund families because they know these were never intended as a donation, and because these cancelations occurred during extraordinary circumstances.

More on topic to the article, I love that teachers and students are doing these virtual events. You can spend a lot of time on YouTube watching the very many talented people involved all across the country. Very uplifting!


Ken
Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 18, 2020 at 9:55 am
Ken, Pleasanton Valley
on Apr 18, 2020 at 9:55 am
8 people like this

@PUSD not refunding. Harvest Park sent a follow up email to the one you posted. They are receiving most of the money back and a form was sent out for you to fill out to get it back. Why are you posting an old and out of date link on here? You must not truly be a parent of a band member, instead are just using that as a way to slam the schools.


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