Every year Evergreen Public Schools produces a breadth of music programming. What kinds of groups do you work with and what kinds of concerts do you capture?
The bulk of our musical programming is from our middle and high schools. We cover four regional choir concerts—Northside, Eastside, Central, and Southside Choral festivals. We cover school band and orchestra festivals. We also partner with the Southwest Washington Wind Symphony to record three concerts a year at Union High School. The SWWS is largely comprised of both current and retired music educators from our area.
We’re on our third year now of Jolly Jamboree. That has become really cool. The band and orchestra teachers at Mountain View High School put together a morning concert for elementary and middle school students and then do two evening concerts for the general public. It’s a collection of holiday and winter songs that are highly produced and it’s become a tradition that I’m sure will continue for years to come.
The 2023 Mountain View Jolly Jamboree
In addition to the recorded concerts, what other kinds of musical performances do you capture?
Around the holidays we bring groups into the district’s television production studio. We can’t fit an entire choir in our studio, so they bring in smaller versions of what they call a 16-voice ensemble. Billy Buhl, the Heritage High School choir director has started a vocal Jazz Ensemble and December 2023 was the first time they have worked with us. We have five different groups come in in total, including Mountain View’s student-guided holiday string ensemble, which is completely student led. For each group we record our three camera live-switched show.
What are some of the technical challenges of capturing in-studio musical performances?
The biggest technical thing mostly is where everybody’s going to be positioned. We have some risers we stage the students on, and we move our three studio cameras as far back as possible to fit everybody in frame. We hold a wide shot on the middle camera and each camera on the sides is zooming in and out on mediums and close ups. Our camera operators for these performances are usually alumni—video production alums from our district who help us out.
How do the students respond to being recorded? Does it make them nervous? Do they get excited knowing that their performances are being captured?
These are really advanced music students, so they’ve been taught over the years how to conduct themselves in a professional way. We’ve asked kids to seem professional, but don’t take it too seriously. Some of them come in in their ugly Christmas sweaters; sometimes their teachers will make them dress more formally, but I try to make sure it’s a casual affair. We ask them to smile, even though there’s not an audience in the studio. It’s about the holiday spirit and sharing something that’s joyful.
Once the performances are captured, they air on TV ETC’s cable channels. I sprinkle the edited songs out throughout the winter break online. They get shared and liked. It’s something cool that people in the community look forward to.
The 2023 Holiday Music Showcase recorded in Evergreen’s Studio 1
What is your favorite aspect of producing this programming and why would you encourage audiences to check it out?
Our music programs are fantastic and state award-winning! We are happy to showcase the types of programs that I feel are the ones that keep kids in school. These programs help create memories in school communities, and I love to showcase the talents of our students.
We have developed great relationships with our music educators, and it means a lot when they come back year after year. Since we started this holiday music showcase, I have heard from so many community folks—or I see the social media comments about how cool it is—and we see how many times it’s been shared. People really like it, and I think they’ve come to expect that kind of quality programming from us, and of course the quality of music from our students.