The Music Department at Acalanes High School
LPIE Interview of Acalanes High School Instrumental Music Director Lauren Gibson.
Thank you so much for speaking with us today, Ms. Gibson!
Please highlight the music program for us. What would you like us to know about it?
We have a very robust program here at Acalanes, filled with many opportunities for our students. The Instrumental Music Program encompasses 3 different bands, a jazz band, and a string orchestra. The students also play in Pep Band during various athletic events as well as perform around campus throughout the school year. The Choral Program is still thriving! The choir meets during first period, is open to anyone who is interested, and has already performed the National Anthem this year.
What are your goals for the department this year and beyond?
A huge goal of mine is to put our talented students into the school community as a whole and really become an integral part of Acalanes. We want to share all of that talent with the community and contribute to the Dons spirit.
How has Covid impacted the music program?
Covid was a really difficult time for music. One of the best parts of being a musician is performing with others, which cannot be replicated online. Last year, while we all felt the loss of playing together, it also allowed us to explore other skills, such as composition, that we typically don’t have time for in a typical school year. I can say we are all beyond thrilled to be back!
Please talk about the importance of LPIE to the music department at Acalanes.
LPIE is instrumental in the success of this music department. They support us in two different areas, the first being instruments and supplies. Our instruments are very costly, some in the thousands of dollars, and repairs can be quite pricey as well. With LPIE’s support, we have an incredible selection of instruments that aren’t usually available at a high school. They also fund coaches to come in and work with our students on technique and musicality which just polishes our performances that much more. We are incredibly grateful for LPIE’s support.
To elaborate more on the importance of LPIE funding, would you say that what we have here at Acalanes is “not normal” -- meaning, it’s not a given that all public high schools necessarily have what we have?
*Answered a bit in the above question. We are very lucky to have the equipment we have and to be able to keep it in excellent playing condition. Without LPIE’s support, our music program would look very different. It is not usual to have this funding, even around Northern California.
Give us your perspective on how music education is necessary and fundamental.
Music is essential for our students because of just how many skills they learn in any given rehearsal. Students build communication, leadership, and collaboration, as well as a knowledge of history, reading, and tactile skills. Music also builds emotional intelligence and is a way for our students to express themselves without words.
What is a good age for students to start music lessons?
We should start them as soon as we can! A student is never too young (or old!) to learn music. Many students before kindergarten have a knack for rhythm and singing, and by the time they get to 4th grade, they are ready for an instrument. I would encourage everyone, no matter their age, to get involved in music.
What would you tell your high school aged self today?
I would tell myself to live in the moment. There are so many small gems that happen every day and often we are too busy or stressed about something coming up that we tend to miss or ignore them. Enjoy that gorgeous major chord and celebrate the small successes we have each and every day.
What music do you listen to decompress after a long day?
For me to decompress, I have to listen to something completely different than what we are playing in our ensembles. If it is classically oriented music, I begin to analyze it, so I tend to listen to anything from acoustic, to alternative, to anything else that strikes my fancy. I love discovering new and upcoming artists.