This past summer, upper school music teacher Gilles Pugatch and colleagues David Levin and John-Alec Raubeson started to tinker with JamKazam, an app that allows musicians to collaborate remotely in real time.
Their goal was to find a platform for music students to learn, participate and, yes, jam “together” in class.
“When the technology works, which takes some rigging, it’s amazing for students in a different state or city to be able to play together with students who are in person and on campus,” said Pugatch. “It does not eliminate latency but it gets it to a manageable level.”
While the Contemporary Ensemble practices “Remedy” by the Black Crowes and the Jazz Band perfects “Know You Now” by Amy Winehouse, these students appreciate the chance to make music with each other.
Noah Lin ’23, a keyboardist who plays in-person in the Jazz Band, said, “The app can be really difficult to use sometimes but if you really give it your all, it can do wondrous things.”
Zahali Vauclena ’23 is a vocalist, who participates remotely, with the Contemporary Ensemble. “I have had a wonderful experience with JamKazam,” he said. “The most challenging part is sometimes hearing each part of the band - like differentiating the guitar while also trying to hear bass - and to know when to start your part.”
Pugatch said navigating computer and connectivity issues can be daunting but worth it. “I am pretty proud of this accomplishment. This is truly at the vanguard of leveraging technology to overcome obstacles.”