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The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

The news site of Santa Barbara City College.

The Channels

Jazz at The Cutting Edge spotlights new direction for music program

Ryan P. Cruz
Screen Grab of Jazz Improvisation and Guitar Studies instructor Tony Ybarra describing the challenges in teaching music classes remotely during the “SBCC Jazz at the Cutting Edge” webinar hosted by SBCC Foundation president Geoff Green on Thursday, Sept. 4 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

City College faculty and band directors Tony Ybarra and Jim Mooy spoke on behalf of the Jazz band’s continuing remote musical education throughout campus closure.

For 30 plus years City College has hosted a Summer Jazz Seminar

“Come April…everything moved over to online and I’m thinking, how are we going to do this?” Ybarra explained.

During the SBCC Jazz at The Cutting Edge webinar Ybarra said, “I was the lucky one to inherit it for the first year during COVID…the summer jazz seminar is so special.”

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This was Ybarra’s first year running the Summer program and he didn’t let any obstacles stand in his way.

The summer program took months of planning. 

Since campus was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the music faculty and students had to find a way to continue their education remotely. 

The difficulty with practicing online was trying to manage three groups of twenty individuals to perform in sync in real time through the internet because “During this time playing together wasn’t an option,” Ybarra said.

During the webinar Mooy said, “I decided to go out and figure out what technologies were out there where we could actually play live together using the internet” and “It really was a search of desperation,” to find a program which would allow the musicians to perform synchronously while rehearsing remotely in real time.  

Mooy found an up-and-coming internet software called Jamulus. Jamulus is an audio only software that can be used for musicians to rehearse together remotely. The software allows musicians and bands to play together in real time by sending the signals from each person’s computer to a server.

City College is also the first academic class in America to have twenty plus people using the Jamulus program all at the same time.

The musicians also playfully used Zoom’s visual effects to enhance their experience. 

Not only was the use of this online software programs such as Zoom and Jamulus needed but microphones were a must for each musician to perform. Luckily, City College was able to provide each musician with a microphone, thanks to generosity through the CARES Act

Ybarra also acknowledged and thanked the foundation for the Tobes Fund grant which made it possible for the City College program to provide its students with fifteen professional musicians to teach virtual master classes.

The summer program was a success but “Sadly we couldn’t video any of it because we had minors, but they really developed a nice shape to their musical ability,” Ybarra said.

With the successful integration of Jamulus into the music program, staff and students will continue to use the software for the rest of the Fall 2020 semester.

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