Above and Beyond / Band teacher tackles pandemic with a BANG!

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Telstar Band teacher Christopher Alberi smiles as he shares his exhilarating and hopeful musical experience. Submitted

BETHEL – Being a choir teacher and orchestra teacher during the pandemic has proven to be exceptionally fun for Telstar teacher Christopher Alberi and his students. Since it would be difficult for Alberi to teach his students the work of breathing in the heart of the pandemic, as well as the wind instruments, he pivoted to a different instrument. The first being a bucket drum unit. After six weeks, when the kids started to fuss, Alberi made another pivot.

“I have some experience playing in rock bands and when I was at Crescent Park in Woodstock we had a modern band unit which is basically a rock band unit,” says Alberi. “So I thought maybe this was something that I could expand, maybe it’s something that I can take from being five kids in a group at my biggest class in the last year, [which] had 17 children.

“So I found as many ukuleles as I could, I had three drum kits, three basses to use one [well as a] handle of electric guitars and electric keyboards. We started playing mostly rock music in class. This is what we did last year, with the exception of the first six weeks.

The students played a wide variety of songs that they all chose, including those by John Denver, “Take Me Home”, The Weekend, “Blinding Lights” and Rick Astley, “Never Gonna Give You Up”.

Astley’s song actually started out as a joke; however, Alberi describes the sound as huge, beautiful, and full. In addition, the students performed the theme song for “The Office”.

Alberi said it seemed his students were relieved to come to his class, as if it was a break from the real world. He also describes how focused they were when the whole symphony came together.

“I think their actions could speak louder than their words, [as] a generation that grew up on smartphones and tablets and has the Internet close at hand, ”says Alberi. “I think sometimes they have a hard time concentrating, but when we play I don’t [that] concentration problem. So I think that says a lot considering that when we rehearse together as a band, they don’t think of anything else. They don’t look at their laptops or phones. They are engaged. It is a rare mental framework, rare for children these days.

When Alberi describes 2020 and the challenges it has had to overcome, he responds with a positive response.

“Even though we – all the staff at Telstar – had to overcome huge challenges, it still felt like a successful school year and it was only because the kids showed up and took on all of these challenges last year.” , says Alberi with passion.

“So I learned that it is really the children who [make] education is worth it. It’s one of those things the cartoons say [at] price acceptance speech, right? Like you hear it and say to yourself, oh that’s good, but last year I really felt like I really felt it.

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