Harmony Club


PART 1: Practice Makes Perfect

In the lower campus, the hub of West Ranch music is alive with eager musicians who use music to transform their feelings into an art piece.

Upon entrance to the halls just outside of the band room, students are scattered around; several play their trumpets while leaning with their backs to the wall, a few other students leisurely sit around as if the room is their home, and one person’s voice raises above the others. [Jonas/people talking]

Club members stop their separate conversations and move in closer, listening to Katona.

[Jonas talking]

After the laughter dies down, Jonas moves on to another subject new members. As he welcomes them, Katona gives a brief summary on what it is that the club does and explains Harmony’s main goal.

“Our purpose is to not only provide performance opportunities for members, but also to give entertainment to [the] community, especially people in the elderly homes that don’t get a lot of entertainment. They’re there alone. Their families aren’t there for a lot of times. And not only that, but to the community, we want to be able to provide an ensemble where people can perform without expecting payment. It’s not very exclusive either. You just need to be able to play an instrument or sing.”

This year, Harmony is fairly new. Although many of their former players have all graduated earlier, there is a wide number of beginning members in all grades who are excited to be part of the club.

For Freshman Kevin Stevens, this is his first time in Harmony. “There’s a lot of great experiences to get to play music with a lot of different people; it teaches you to work as a team, and overall, it increases your knowledge in music.”

Later in the meeting, officers introduce themselves and people sign up for the pieces they wanted to perform. On the whiteboard, Public Relations Officer Alisa Luera jots down her address, the place where their next rehearsal will be located.

Luera, who plays the violin herself, says, “We’re young musicians and we like to influence people to play music and also to inspire and entertain people.”

The band room’s atmosphere is not like the quiet silence that fills those empty halls outside. Inside, loud voices speak to each other and the trumpets off to the side continue to play. It may sound like a mess in the room with the hum of constant chatter and the faint playing of instruments, but the club still is able to plan their performance.

Harmony’s Co-President Shawn Chung is passionate about his craft and the impact it makes on people. “I think it’s really great to see how people react to the music and how entranced they are by it. The room will start off  with like three people and then because they hear it from like upstairs, they’ll all come down to hear it.”

West Ranch’s Harmony club aims to spread their love of music by performing at various locations, such as senior homes and Magic Mountain. In total, Harmony does about two performances per semester.

Chung expresses the purpose of the club playing at a senior center. “Our purpose is to make music available to everyone, particularly in elderly homes because they don’t get that much entertainment and they have to have all of the workers there make activities for them.”

Each performance is prepared through organizational meetings and weekend practices. Students gather in the band room once every week to figure out how to fully enhance their performance. They give up hours of their own free time to give back to the community through their musical talent.

Katona appreciates the act of giving back, especially through music. “We play for various organizations around the community, essentially put on concerts. Normally we’ve done a lot of senior homes, like Summerhill Villa and the SCV Senior Center, but this year we are trying to expand and reach out more to the community and do concerts in other places.”

Thus, the first meeting of the semester served as an ice-breaker for students new to the club. Quickly, the environment in the band room went from awkward to lively. The large, diverse group was able to bond over music as a common interest. By the time the meeting was dismissed for the day, it was clear that Harmony was well on its way to becoming a close-knit family.

In this club, everyone is accepted; Luera and other members welcome newcomers to Harmony, bonding over their love of music and connecting with one another. “We accept people who play instruments, sing, basically everything involved with music. It’s really fun and you make a group. It’s cool. Music brings people together.”

TRANSITION= harmony playing music

Part 2: Performance Ready

After multiple meetings, Harmony is ready to officially rehearse. It is about six o’clock at night. Several Harmony members have gathered within Luera’s house and sit with their cellos and violas to begin preparing for the event the next weekend. The room is cozy with a piano in the corner and numerous music awards lining the walls demonstrating the family’s musical talent. The members first must decide what medley to perform at Summerhill Villa. The rehearsal is casual and relaxed as members suggest their favorite pieces to play. A few of Luera’s cats lounge around the room and occasionally contribute their opinions with a soft purr. Finally, they decide to perform Schindler’s List Medley and Howl’s Moving Castle. The sound of tuning instruments fills the house, and musical language floats across the room. (Playing Schindler’s list medley)

The members begin to rehearse their first song. Playing comes naturally to the musicians, and they hit the notes with vibrato while staying in pace with one another. (playing polka song) To the unconditioned ear, the song sounds nearly perfect. However, the seasoned musicians still have critique for themselves and for other members within the ensemble. Luera’s mom monitors the event, recommending suggestions every couple of minutes. But for the most part, the members are independent and know exactly what to do. (piano playing)

As the first song wraps up, Luera’s mom sits at the piano to contribute to the next piece they will be playing. The second piece is a bit more difficult to play in time with each other. Eventually the musicians use a metronome to keep time. Within a few practices of the song, they have the entire piece perfectly in unison.

As soon as the members feel comfortable with their performance, they enjoy spending time with one another while eating pizza. All of them are close friends and have gotten to know each other over the years through the club and through experiences in band and orchestra.

TRANSITION= harmony playing music

It is the day of Harmony’s first performance of the year. The students gather into a side room on the second floor of Summerhill Villa, warming up and tuning their instruments. Despite the pressure of the situation, students remind themselves that they are playing for kindness, not for competition.

Jonas emphasizes that Harmony’s delightful music is not only for the club’s performers, but also for the Santa Clarita Valley in general. “Our purpose is to not only provide performance opportunities for members, but also to give entertainment to [the] community, especially people in the elderly homes that don’t get a lot of entertainment.”

More so, some players are filled with worry, concerned that they may mess up while performing.

Stevens is no exception to the nervousness. “I do feel nervous all the time. I mean, it’s just the usual, butterflies in the stomach.”

Just outside the practice room, many senior citizens begin to gather on the couches, ready for musical entertainment. It’s not often that a group of high school  students willingly comes to perform for them, and they appreciate the deed.

Attendee Mary Prinzivalli respects the students that came to play for her and the others.“I think it’s wonderful that they give up some of their time to come here. That’s thoughtful of them.”

Soon, the performance starts and the viewers are entranced. [music playing] The room is completely silent, save for the instruments, as everyone watches in awe. One woman taps her foot along to the beat, and another is smiling for the duration of the entire performance. Not a moment after the first song comes to a close, the room erupts into applause. [applause] It’s clear to see the joy in the senior citizens’ faces.

Prinzivalli was one of the many people that liked the performance.“I enjoyed it. I love music.”

The crowd does not lose their enthusiasm as the songs continue. Once they begin to play John Williams’ theme song of ¨Schindler’s List,¨ many of the seniors close their eyes as if they are in a trance. [schindler’s list] After each song ends, the audience grows and the happiness does not dwindle. Through nearly perfect pieces and tunes with slight mistakes, the students continue to play passionately.

Katona considers the performance a success and a rewarding step in the club’s progress.“I want [the audience] to see that there is still a thriving community for music like this. I also want them to see, you know, that this generation is still keeping up with everything and we’re still dedicated, we still want to give back to the community and everything, and we’re not just in it for profit.”

(sound of audience clapping and thanking students) Afterwards, many senior citizens stay behind to give their thanks to the students.

Many students stay behind to talk to each other and their audience about the music. Although that production is  over, members of Harmony readily await the next opportunity to serve their community through music.   (music playing)