The Student News Site of Gunderson High School

Kenny Vu

The Strings & Sticks

March 9, 2023

Music is a large part of our lives. However, not many know the process of how their favorite bands create hit songs. If you’d like to know about how bands might prepare for a concert, take a look at what Gunderson’s concert band does to set up and rock on.

“[In] the beginning phases, [we] choose all the songs and come up with enough sheet music for everybody,” Geordie Smith said. “Sometimes we have to write it, sometimes we do it by ear. We have a lot of different ways of learning songs.”

Smith is Gunderson’s current band teacher. Anyone visiting the band room may notice Smith’s hardworking students practicing diligently on their instruments. 

“I think the hardest part of practicing is definitely doing it alone,” Junior Matthew Cisneros said. “It’s definitely better to practice with people.”

Cisneros mainly plays the drums and guitar, but occasionally does vocals and even the harmonica. It’s a common sight to see band students play multiple instruments.

“Mr. Smith will give us a blank document that everyone is invited to,” Cisneros said. “And he just tells us to pick whatever song you think fits within the concert and you think is a reasonable song that everyone should play.”

After that is practice, practice, and more practice! Smith wants to ensure that everything will run as smoothly as possible during concerts. However, a good concert isn’t all about the music. The visuals also play a factor.

“I’ll program [the lighting] on the computer, [and] I’ll listen to the song to get a feel for it,” Sophomore Marina Severino said. “Then I’ll just record it.”

Severino manages the lighting and visuals during concerts but also has talent on the piano. Although Severino oversees the lights, there’s also much more going on in the background.

“We’re always working on trying to get the instruments placed, so they have the best sound,” Smith said. “It’s a question of keeping every performer visible to the audience so that nobody gets ignored. Everybody gets a chance to be acknowledged.”

Being left in the dark is no fun. Smith knows this well and has attempted to innovate new ways to organize his students.

“We start by placing the drums first,” Smith said. “Over the years, we’ve tried to get the drums closer to the front. Part [of] that [is] I don’t like it that drummers get ignored so much. I mean, they’re very important people, you know.”

However, it’s not just the drummer being cast to the back.

“So, I try to make sure that everybody is visible,” Smith said. “From the bass player, to the piano player, [and] the drummer. Then of course you know, you have your singers and your lead guitar players who tend to be right in the front. It’s good that they get attention, just not all the attention.”

Even now, it isn’t a complete concert without one last thing. The stage decoration may not do much, but many still consider it necessary.

“The theme is a ’disco theme’,” Smith said. “That’s disco aesthetics, so the old fashioned 1970s clothes, disco ball, psychedelic lighting, but the music isn’t all going to be disco. The music’s gonna be all different kinds of music. So, we’re gonna dress like it’s disco, but we’re gonna play everything.”

Smith’s students have been working extremely hard to make sure everyone will have the time of their life if they attend their concert. After all, months of practice and hard work are all poured into one night.

“It’s a nice experience to go and see the concerts,” Cisneros said. “Whether just, if you like music or if you just want to see your friends. I think it’s just a really nice way to help out the school, and give confidence to all those people involved.”


History of the Bass Guitar


The bass guitar isn’t a very widely-known instrument, despite the fact that it is featured in many bands and concerts. In fact, many are even pronouncing it wrong. Musicians know that the correct way of saying it is similar to “base”.

“The Fender company realized that they were being run by a guy named Leo Fender, who was more of a physicist than a guitar player,” Geordie Smith said. “He realized that there was no reason that you couldn’t make a bass guitar that did the same job as an upright bass, but was electric and handheld.”

The upright bass resembles a very large violin, which is completely different from today’s electric bass that we know and love. 

“He basically designed something similar to the electric guitar that [was handheld],” Smith said. “The bass guitar is so common now. We just call it a bass, but honestly, it’s not. It’s a bass guitar.”

The bass guitar has a low and deep “voice”, compared to the higher-pitched sounds of an electric guitar. It is often referred to as the backbone of the band.

“I think of it as the most important instrument in any band,” Smith said. “If the bass is tight, everybody in the band feels the music well. Performing gets easier. Performing gets so much easier when the bass is there.”

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