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Murray Journal

Cottonwood High students learn ‘what it takes’ to make it in the music world

May 07, 2018 03:55PM ● By Julie Slama

Cottonwood high music students take in Harry Potter World after a Disney workshop. (Amber Tuckness/Cottonwood High)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Through a 90-minute Disney workshop with veteran saxophonist, Sal Lozano, Cottonwood High instrumentalists learned what level of musicians they would need to be to perform professionally. 

“He worked with the students and had them sight-read a piece of Disney music — and record it,” Cottonwood director Amber Tuckness said. “He’s a LA saxophonist and told them how he gets a call, sometimes he doesn’t even know who for, goes in to play and they’ll record him right then and there. It taught the students how good they would have to be in able to make it in the music world.” 

This was part of the 170-student Cottonwood High music tour, one that focused on improving their skills rather than competing, Tuckness said.

“The students had a chance to play music that was dubbed into a movie and record in a real studio,” she said about their experience in backstage Disney in mid-March. “Only three students had experience in a recording session before this, so it was new to most of the group. It really opened their eyes as several now want to do this.” 

The instrumentalists performed pieces from “Tangled,” “Nightmare Before Christmas,” “The Incredibles,” the opening trailer from “Marvel” and the introduction of Disney movies. Amongst the songs the choir performed were “The Muppet Show” theme song and “Circle of Life” from “The Lion King.”

While in the Los Angeles area, the students also spent six hours with two professionals at Chapman University, who gave the students “great insight,” she said.

“They were able to let the students see their music so they can perform it at a level they’re capable of,” Tuckness said. “This has been a perfect scenario as we weren’t ready to perform three full pieces for a competition before this and it helped us get ready and have insight to play at a higher level for our festivals this spring.” 

That became apparent as at the region jazz band, the students scored all 1s, or superior marks, and followed it up at state competition with an overall superior rating after their return to Utah. At the region band festival, the students also received all 1s and were preparing for state as of press deadline. The orchestra also was slated to compete in late April.

The Madrigals received excellent ratings at their region competition and the concert choir competition was scheduled for April. In addition, 27 students were to compete in solos or ensembles at state April 28, she said.

The California tour also included time for the students to enjoy Disneyland, eat at a medieval dinner theatre, attend the Hollywood Pantages Theatre for the Broadway show of “Aladdin” where they talked to musicians in the pit, and tour Universal Studios’ Harry Potter World, where they wore their Harry Potter shirts, with each area of the performing arts representing a different house.  

Prior to the trip, students completed a survey that had them answer questions from asking their favorite Disney character to questions about Harry Potter. 

“We put these together in a book along with some games so they got to know their classmates, chaperones, directors and everyone better and become better friends,” Tuckness said. “At first when we announced the tour, the kids were disappointed we weren’t going to go compete at a festival, but I didn’t hear one complaint after we returned home. They realized they had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences.”