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The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

The Student News Site of Burlingame High School

The Burlingame B

Music department brings lively music-making to Southern California and Disneyland tour

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Photo Courtesy of Kyoko Yamamoto and Timothy Whitehorn
“For me personally, I want [others] to see the music program as a strong union because we can really bring out the life of our school,” Vega said. “We need music, you know? Otherwise, things would be really silent and dead.”

Talking until midnight in the hotel room. Splurging on food. Playing Heads Up! while waiting in line for the Tower of Terror. Teaching music director and teacher Kyoko Yamamoto and adult chaperones the new “mewing” trend from TikTok. These were just some of the moments that music students gleefully recalled when asked to encapsulate their most recent Disneyland and Southern California tour.  

It all began on Friday, Feb. 23, when students from all ensembles — jazz, concert band, concert choir, and wind —- took a nine-hour bus ride to Anaheim. After quickly dropping off their belongings at the hotel, they rushed over to listen to the Pacific Symphony, where they attended the two-hour-long performance hosted by professional musicians. For senior band staff member and clarinetist Clara Zhong, the symphony was a rewarding experience and a valuable addition to the tour’s schedule. 

“There’s an impressive element in seeing people who are doing what you do as a career, where they have so much skill in it,” Zhong said. “[As a musician], you always tend to try to know your instrument in the piece. And so I remember watching the clarinetist [and being really impressed with their skill]. I think that this really provides value in not only seeing [this performance] but motivating students to try to work harder in our classes.” 

On Saturday, the music department finally arrived at their long-awaited destination: Disneyland. Not only were the ensembles performing at the theme park, but all concert band students had the opportunity to attend a 90-minute behind-the-scenes workshop with renowned composers who have written soundtracks for movies. 

“We went backstage and were taught the importance of music within movies at Disney,” freshman Aidan Vega said. “We were conducted by a professional conductor and played over soundtracks and as background music of different movie clips. I thought it was really cool because we could bring the character of all the movies and bring a story together.” 

While the concert band participated in the workshop, the wind ensemble performed “Catina Band” from Star Wars, the soundtrack from “Pirates of the Caribbean” and the “Frozen” soundtrack. The jazz ensemble played renditions of “Flight of the Foo Birds” and “The Incredibles” soundtrack, and the jazz ensemble joined the concert choir to perform “All at Sea,” “It’s Been a Long, Long Time” and “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story. Due to competitions and time constraints, preparation for these pieces felt quite rushed for all ensembles.

“We learned three pieces in about a few months. That was pretty challenging because a lot of the upperclassmen didn’t actually plan on going to Disney and left a lot of expectations [for] the younger members of the band,” sophomore and horn player Meghan Lee said. “Especially during the last week, we were rushing rehearsals and making sure everybody knew what they were doing and playing.”

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Because many of the music department’s concerts and events are local, this Southern California tour tested the capabilities of these high school musicians as they performed for hundreds of theme-park goers, a significant step up from playing at the school theater for friends and family. 

“This is a performance that’s around people we have no connection to whatsoever. They’re not people from Burlingame, or even from the district. These are people from everywhere and anywhere,” Zhong said. “And I feel like that sense of distance makes things feel more official because […] by platforming us, they are allowing you to represent their brand, even for that small twenty to thirty-minute performance.” 

For Yamamoto, music-making and performances are a priority, and she used the four-day trip to encourage students from different ensembles to mingle and build more trust with each other. 

“Looking at all the photos and everybody’s smiles that you don’t really see in class, it’s priceless and so rewarding to see,” Yamamoto said. “This is a reward for their commitment to the school, and […] I hope my students see that what they do is moving people and making people excited. Throughout this trip, I’ve seen all my students gain trust and connectedness which is so important in music-making.” 

Overall, the time to bond with one another, cooperative weather conditions compared to last year’s tour and exhilarating park rides with friends cemented the tour as a memorable experience for these student musicians.

“Performing for me is always very exciting, so this was enjoyable, plus it was more casual because we got to play Disney music,” said Lee. “Besides the band stuff we did, just hanging out with my friends and taking a few days off of school was really nice.”

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About the Contributor
Iny Li, Staff Reporter
Iny Li is a sophomore at Burlingame High School who is thrilled to explore journalism as a first-year! She plays badminton for the school team and enjoys reading, listening to music, and crocheting. Her deep interest in journaling and creative writing are what has driven her to join journalism. She looks forward to improving her literary skills and meeting new people along the way.
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