Redmond students get a taste of the musical film industry
Mickey Mouse met the Mustangs over spring break, as the Redmond High School (RHS) Music Department participated in “Disney’s Magic Music Days.”
Disneyland is always a delight, but this was more than a romp around a theme park. Through a structured educational program, the band, orchestra and choir students got a taste of what it’s like to be a professional in the musical film industry.
Five bus loads of instrumentalists and vocalists rolled out of the RHS parking lot at 4 a.m. on Monday, March 31, split up onto two flights to Southern California and regrouped in Santa Monica, said orchestra director Paula Ferguson.
Tuesday through Thursday, April 1-3, flew by in a whirlwind of workshops, highlighted by recording soundtracks to actual Disney animation. Wearing headphones and listening to click tracks, the band and orchestra students recorded arrangements from movies such as “The Emperor’s New Groove” and “Dinosaurs.” Choir students worked on tunes from “Mulan,” “Lilo & Stitch” and more.
The experience was unlike anything they’d imagined, students agreed.
“Our clinician was amazing. He really captured the essence of playing the Disney music,” clarinetist Claire Walli enthused.
Bassoon player Alfredo Arnaiz added, “they made us really work on our expression and emotion — they gave us background on the scene.”
Violinist Reid Tennis said the hands-on approach, “teaches how you can play as a job,” not just as a hobby.
The consensus of opinion, said band director Andy Robertson, “is that it made them think about movies they’d seen, in a way they’d never thought about them before. They looked at creating movie soundtracks in a different way — like, ‘Wow, people actually do this for a living?’”
As well as getting high school kids excited about careers in music, the program emphasized the discipline it takes to succeed, noted choir director Arianna Guthrie.
“They talked about the audition process and how you have to be ‘on.’ If you’re tired, the audience doesn’t care. They audition hundreds of people and whittle them down,” she said. “Some kids have the talent but not the drive or the maturity.”
All three of the RHS ensembles also performed on an outdoor stage at Disneyland — and of course, there was some free time to enjoy the rides and attractions.
The camaraderie was something they’ll never forget. As Walli put it, “Being on a group trip with 160 students from our school, looking around and seeing all these people you know … everyone was so open and welcoming and happy.”
The students returned to Redmond Friday, April 4, with clinicians’ business cards and invitations to come back to California when they’re ready to take on Hollywood.