‘Connection through music’: Archer pilots first student-run jazz, rock band

Sophomores+Nita+Kelly+and+Megan+Kelley+practice+chosen+jazz+and+rock+songs+on+their+instruments.+The+jazz+and+rock+band+members+met+in+the+choir+room+March+29+to+continue+rehearsing+their+songs+together.

Photo credit: Audrey Chang

Sophomores Nita Kelly and Megan Kelley practice chosen jazz and rock songs on their instruments. The jazz and rock band members met in the choir room March 29 to continue rehearsing their songs together.

By Audrey Chang, Staff Reporter

Every Tuesday at lunch, pop, jazz and rock music can be heard from the choir room, where a group of nine upper and middle school students rehearse during their band meetings.

The band is completely student-run, and members are currently working on playing the Beatles song “Come Together.” Junior Mia Makower started the band during second semester to give other students the opportunity to play more diverse music that is as not represented at Archer.

I love music, and I don’t really like classical music — the music that the orchestra plays, or even [in] choir they do some pop, newer songs, modern songs, but it’s still not the type of music that I listen to,” Makower said. “I thought that it would be a good opportunity to start a band, and, hopefully, people who share that same desire as me to play a wider range of music could join.” 

Sophomore Sophia Bratman joined the band this semester because they liked the aspects of student leadership reflected throughout the band, and also being able to play different types of music. Bratman first started exploring music in elementary school when they played the violin. Throughout the years, they played different instruments, eventually deciding after seventh grade classes that guitar is their favorite and the instrument they decided to play in the band.

“I feel like in school there’s just a very big sense of perfection and needing to be perfect, and just having it be student-led and very student-directed helps to prepare us for future experiences and helps us to make it how perfect we want to make it,” Bratman said. “[The goal is] to bring something to Archer that hasn’t been really brought … and just [to have] connection through music.” 

Eighth grader Emerson Cohen enjoys playing instruments in a group since her previous musical experiences have been one-on-one with teachers. In addition to music classes outside of school, she has also been involved with a cappella and choir since sixth grade and has taken a variety of music classes offered at Archer. She plays guitar for the band but can also play piano and sing.

The band allows more people to learn a wider variety of music and… something that I think is really cool is being able to play with a whole ensemble like band [since] a lot of the time that students who are in it play alone.

— Mia Makower ('23)

“I think [the purpose] was to find people who were interested in playing instruments, and to be able to do something as a group because if you don’t play orchestral instruments … there hasn’t been a place in the past to [play other instruments] at Archer,” Cohen said. “I think it’s great that we have that now.” 

Makower said she is passionate about all music and was previously a member of Archer choir in seventh through 10th grade. She was also a part of an Archer musical production when she was in seventh grade. During meetings, the band members get to work on their parts of the song individually, and then they come together as a whole group to practice.

“Working with other people who are playing the same songs as you and are also learning it at the same speed as you, I think that that’s something that makes it unique,” Makower said. “Something that makes it even more fun [is] everyone’s learning together and then hopefully everyone will feel very accomplished when we finish.” 

Cohen said that she was excited when Makower started the band because she had been looking for a way to get involved at Archer that included instruments and music she enjoys.

“I think [the student leadership] gives us an opportunity to do what we want to do and explore things ourselves,” Cohen said. “I think it’s also cool that Mia started it because I have wanted to be able to play guitar and piano at school, but I haven’t taken the initiative to actually do something about it.” 

One of Bratman’s goals is to continue playing in the band throughout high school and also to perform in a concert either at Archer or outside of school. Bratman also said they have enjoyed the sense of community the band has provided.

“I always look forward to going. It’s just really nice to have a community of people who like to play instruments,” Bratman said. “[The band] was just something that was so inspiring, and I thought it’d be really cool to do that, especially because it’s just student-run.” 

A short-term goal for the band is to play one of their pieces at the spring concert, and longterm, Makower said she wants the band to continue to grow in future years when she is no longer at Archer.

“I hope that the band lasts for a long time at Archer, or I hope it becomes more established like choir, or maybe it could even become a class at some point if they get a teacher to lead it,” Makower said. “I hope that it’s something that continues so that more students who are into music feel that they have a place to belong if they don’t really like classical music.”