How the SPFHS Moonglowers are sticking together as a virtual ensemble


Rachel Ducran, Staff Writer

This fall, Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School’s music department is looking a little different. There has been no marching band activity all season, and the school’s ensembles haven’t met for a real rehearsal in months. Even so, this hasn’t changed much for the bands in terms of productivity.

Durand Thomas, band director at SPFHS, has established a system, hosting virtual meets where everyone can play together while in the comfort of their own homes. He also discovered an application in which everyone can participate in a virtual visual ensemble. Senior Nick Susino, asaxophone player for the SPFHS Moonglowers, touches on the method of keeping musicians engaged.

“We began to use the application UpBeat Music App to do online recordings,” Susino said. “This is where we record ourselves alongside a given track, match up all of our downbeats to each other’s, and the program makes a grid-view performance of us all playing together. I’m really excited to fine-tune our use of this program and make it a more regular part of every remote music department activity.”

While the music department has found workarounds for the pandemic’s limitations, little compares to the camaraderie and unity that the bands share when they perform live as a group. However, when asked about his feelings regarding the lack of in-person rehearsals, Susino was able to find a silver lining. 

“At first, I was very disappointed by the circumstances because the activity I worked so hard to be part of ended up being quite different than what I’d initially hoped for,” Susino said. “That being said, though, I am so excited with what we’ve been able to accomplish through remote rehearsals, and I’m happy to begin recording songs to reach people the way we did when things were normal.”

Senior Brandon Greenberg, also a saxophone player for the Moonglowers, feels the same way, and knows that things will be different from here on out.

“I’m sure that nothing will look exactly the same as it did in the past, even when the pandemic is over,” Greenberg said. “The pandemic has caused us to entirely rethink the way we perform for different audiences in the community, and come up with new methods for the future.”

As of now, the Moonglowers meet Mondays and Wednesdays from 6-7:30 p.m. via google meets. Student interest hasn’t wavered, attendance is maintained and the members of the group continue to enjoy each other’s company virtually. Nonetheless, even while looking at the bright side, the entire department yearns for normality to some degree before the end of the year.

“All of us, including the other bands and also the choirs, are hoping to put on at least one performance before the end of the school year,” Greenberg said. “As a senior, having had a lot of things already been cancelled, it would be nice to be able to put on one last show.”