SBCC’s music department receives nomination for state-level award

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Salome Huang and the rest of the violin section rehearse the first movement of Dvorak’s New World Symphony for the Symphony Orchestra class on Sept. 7, 2021 in DM105 at Santa Barbara City College in Calif. Huang plays second violin for the City College Orchestra.

Melanie Janicke, Staff Writer

For going above and beyond to help its students over the pandemic, City College’s music department has been nominated for the state-level competition, “2022 Exemplary Program Award.”

The teachers, staff and students put an extraordinary effort into their work during the months of the pandemic by making music rehearsals and live concerts possible online.

“Adapt or die. That’s been our mantra,” music professor James Mooy said. “We’ve had to stay one step ahead of what’s going on.”

Each year, the Academic Senate of California Community Colleges awards multiple college programs for their extraordinary work. This year’s theme was decided to be “Addressing Inequity in a Time of Crisis.”

Two California community college programs will receive awards of $4,000 and up to four programs will receive honorable mention plaques. The winners will be honored at the “January 2022 Board of Governor’s meeting.”

As exciting as the new online rehearsing experience was, Mooy and the artists are now happy to be back in person, but again have to find new ways to adapt to the COVID-19 protocols.

“The masks are soul-crushing,” he said. “However, we’re just happy to be finally able to do that. We really are. We’re doing it as safely as we possibly can.”

As soon as in-person classes were canceled on Mar. 13, 2020, Mooy and fellow music professor James Watson figured out how to make music online.

Playing music solely over Zoom wasn’t an option because of its half-second audio delay. Mooy decided to work with Jamulus, the only software package that makes playing music in larger groups online possible by cutting out the audio delay.

Mooy and his 70 students and musicians were not only able to rehearse together online, but also functioned as beta testers for the company.

“We were the only jazz program in the country that was holding regular rehearsals. There was no other school doing this,” said Mooy.

The Jamulus rehearsals made it possible for the department to prepare the symphony orchestra and jazz bands for online concerts.

“It was a team effort. It really was a department jumping on a board and going: okay, we’re gonna go for it, even though we don’t know if it works,” he said.

City College’s music department’s attempt at live performances online worked out perfectly, and the department was able to hold multiple online concerts over the two semesters.

“The video is Zoom and the audio is Jamulus and so we were able to do real-time concerts,” Mooy said. “There is so much that could go wrong, but it was a lot of fun and it kept everybody engaged… When else can you play a concert with a guest artist who is 200 miles away?”