Band Students Thriving in Percussion-Only Classes To Start School Year

The winds and brass instruments have been stored away for the start of the school year, a modified curriculum for St. Margaret’s band program as a risk-mitigation effort.
It has turned St. Margaret’s band students into percussion specialists, and band director Chris Carbajal has added more student choice to the music selection that uses snare drums, tenor drums, bass drums, drum sets, vibraphones, marimbas and the piano. 
“Playing percussion will help wind and brass players with so much,” Mr. Carbajal said. “It helps with reading ability, understanding of rhythms and just experience with being the ‘heartbeat’ of the band.”
Along with playing new instruments, the students are also able to explore music of their liking. Mr. Carbajal has encouraged all students to pick at least one song they want to play, then put together an arrangement that includes all the instruments in use. 
“While we are temporarily a percussion ensemble, students have chosen pop music, hip hop, themes from movies and even songs from their favorite video games,” Mr. Carbajal said. “I arrange it for them and we spend the entire class playing music.”
Adding to the exciting challenge is the concurrent learning model. Mr. Carbajal’s grade 6 class is a mixture of in-person and remote learning, yet they are still able to play synchronously.
“While we can’t play wind or brass instruments, we are still going to learn music and have fun,” Mr. Carbajal said. “It’s loud, but fun.”
An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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