School of Rock performers light up Night to Shine
Natalie Schickendantz | Staff Writer
It was truly a night to shine.
On February 9, School of Rock performed at Night to Shine, a prom for individuals with special needs. Throughout the night, participants and their buddies, volunteers that had been paired with them, circulated to karaoke and game rooms, took photos by the red carpet and danced to live music played by SOR.
Senior Haley Dardis has been with the SOR band for six years but has never performed at the prom. Dardis entered the room and became mesmerized by the amount of joy in one area. According to Dardis, the event is unlike any other.
“When you walk into the room, it’s just such a contagious energy,” Dardis said. “I’m so thankful to be able to get onto the stage and perform not only for, but with all the people, it is truly an amazing experience.”
A musician becomes completely vulnerable to a crowd when beginning a performance, Dardis said, bringing on an initial sense of stage fight.
“Usually I’m pretty nervous before I go up on stage, but when the music starts, my nerves fade away.” Dardis said. “It’s really nice to have fun on stage and dance along with the music while entertaining people in the crowd.”
When preparing for a gig the house band hosts rehearsals, which are typically student led. The musicians institute a responsibility to memorize their parts individually, and as a group, critique and fix any errors. This year, the band played Wannabe by the Spice Girls. Sophomore Leia Bulger continues celebrating her first year playing with the house band as guitar and piano player. Bulger said the School of Rock is a relaxed learning environment with two friendly directors ready to have fun whilst playing music.
“During rehearsals one of our lead singers was gone so our director stepped in,” Bulger said. “We were practicing Wannabe by Spice Girls and he had to fill in as lead singer, watching a grown man break down to a girls anthem made everyone laugh and have a good time.”
There is nothing like connecting to your audience until they are performing by your side. It creates a special bond, Bulger said, playing her guitar next to a stranger who is lost in the music like she is.
“To be honest I was really nervous but when I saw the kids dancing on stage and having fun that just made me happy.” Bulger said. “It’s not like we’re on stage and they’re the audience, they come and join us they’re part of our show so I think it’s really cool.”
Participants were invited to dance on stage next to the School of Rock musicians.
The chant of the night is to have fun. Senior Elizabeth Aube rejoices her fourth time performing at Night to Shine. In the past, Aube praised the event for the happiness and fun it brings. Aube said the entire atmosphere is different from a typical gig, where the main focus is performing technique, but instead it’s about amusing the guests.
“When you’re on the stage you just want to dance and join in on the fun,”Aube said. “The kids can really tell when you’re being genuine and it’s important for them that you’re enjoying it, and if you’re up there having a great time they feel that.”
Customarily the band performs and the audience dances, however, at one point in the night the kids are invited onto the stage. The interaction between us and the kids, Aube said, creates an additional layer of direct contact which makes the connection of fun even stronger.
“We give them shakers and maracas and they can play and dance with us,”Aube said. “All of them are so nice and they absolutely love playing with the band and they adore being up on stage.”
A grand room is decorated with strings and lights packed with happy faces. Aube said this is one performance without nerves because the fun diminishes any anxiety.
“Even if you mess up notes they’re so excited and they’re just so happy to be here,” Aube said. “It’s a really unique experience I’ve never seen something to this extent. It’s so big there’s so much room and there’s so much decorating.”
At SOR there is a dedicated focus on rock and roll, however, the prom students learn more dance and pop numbers. With hours weekly being put into rehearsal, the students are excited to perform and determined to please a crowd. Aube said musicians constantly adapt to new rhythm and a change of genre keeps them rounded.
“It’s a change of pace and it gives us something new to play,” Aube said. “Dance music is really fun to play; it might not be 80 notes in every single song, but it always has a good groove to it.”
Senior and returning buddy Seth Herbert enjoyed another prom this year on red carpet duty. The entrance was transformed into a runway embellished with colorful decorations and accompanied with loud paparazzi. Herbert said one of the best moments of the night was greeting everyone at the door and seeing their faces light up.
“They come in, they get their buddy, they come through the door and we are as loud as possible and clapping, trying to get them ampt up for the night,” Herbert said. “Sometimes the more sensitive people ask us to be quiet so we shake our hands and smile.”
In many cases the guests did not have an opportunity to go to their own school dance, but this event served as just the occasion. Herbert said after hearing the guests’ stories you become aware of the limited opportunities they have.
It’s a good experience for them because some had complications growing up,” Herbert said. “Some were not accepted or welcomed to their dance so this is where we try to bring back their childhood a little bit and give them something special.”