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ABQ middle school musicians a YouTube hit

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

Middle school students from Eisenhower and Desert Ridge are featured in a YouTube video, the “Eisenridge Middle School Band Virtual Concert Series.” (Source: Youtube)

It’s been said that “music is universal.”

Over the course of five days, more than 100 Albuquerque middle school students from Eisenhower and Desert Ridge proved that, despite barriers, they could come together as a group to perform music.

The students were asked by their band leaders – Sam Nesbitt, Donna Schmidt and Aaron Lovato – to record themselves performing a piece of music at home.

The end result is the “Eisenridge Middle School Band Virtual Concert Series.”

The 2½-minute video was posted on YouTube on Thursday and has racked up more than 4,000 views.

Students performed “Fanfare Heroica” by Brian Balmages. Each student utilized the Smart Music application.

“We piloted the program with an easier piece of music,” said Nesbitt, who is the band director at Eisenhower Middle School. “Now that school is closed, we’re going to be extending the program so that it’s challenging for the students.”

On Friday, Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart announced a statewide school closure through the rest of the academic year. The move comes as COVID-19 infection rates continue to rise.

Public preschools and K-12 schools across the state were ordered to shut down effective March 16, to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Students were initially scheduled to go back to school April 6, though the Governor’s Office warned – both early on and recently – that the closure could be for longer.

Nesbitt said with distance learning curriculum now at the forefront, he and Schmidt will use the Smart Music application to do more performances like this.

Smart Music is an online music learning application where students are able to do assignments and tests via their computer. They can also take tests and assignments at home from music classes.

A few years ago, Nesbitt and Schmidt talked about getting together students from different schools and doing a performance.

Late last week, the educators put a call out to students to participate in this project.

And they came in droves – 120 to be exact.

There were 126 video submissions and some students turned in videos playing multiple instruments.

Nesbitt then turned to his not-too-confident video editing skills to put it together.

“It’s simple. It’s a mosaic of the videos,” he explained. “Through it all, I managed to forget one student, Samira Nelson, who turned in her video and it got lost in the shuffle.”

Nesbitt said being able to utilize the technology for the foreseeable future is great for teachers and the students.

As the views on the video continue to rise, he said it’s a great opportunity for students to be seen.

“I think more people have viewed this video than come to the actual performances,” he said. “The video gives some insight into the talented students. It can also inspire other students or adults to pick up an instrument and start to learn.”

Teachers from across the district have already reached out to Nesbitt for future collaborations and how to get started.

“We aren’t going to have concerts for the rest of the school year,” he said. “That’s something that is setting in. We want parents to be able to see these great things. It’s great exposure for the schools and the students. It continues to create a community for the students because their life has been altered.”

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