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CB3 Videos Bring Music, Joy During Coronavirus Shutdown

Apr 07, 2020 10:28AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
If you haven't tapped your toes or had a big grin on your face yet today, you clearly haven't watched any CB3 videos.

CB3 is the name of the Costa Band/Corona Ban/Corona Band - the brainchild of Grammy-award-winning Mira Costa High School band director Joel Carlson, along with his students. 

Through high-end musical production and some video trickery, Carlson (virtually) brought together his students and the "Carlson band" (a mashup of Carlson playing all of the different instruments) to produce the most fun video you'll see all day.

"'CB3' - Dance - I Want You Back" is a jazzy version of the Jackson 5 classic, made even more entertaining with Carlson's antics in and around the empty Mira Costa campus (filmed in the first week that students were out, when teachers were still allowed on campus).

"One of our goals with this series was to provide the joy of playing for our students and the joy of listening to our audiences, even during this difficult time," said Carlson in the video. "In the editing process I've been listening to it for two weeks now - and it still lifts my spirits every time I hear it."

Bringing the 'Play' Back to 'Playing Music'

The CB3 concept actually began with Carlson's first video, "'CB3' - Prelude - Are You Ready For This?", which he started filming on the very first day of the COVID-19 school shutdown.

In the video, Carlson pokes around an empty band room waiting for students to check in, and then finally decides to create music by playing all of the parts himself. (And thus the all-Carlson band was born.)

In an interview with DigMB, Carlson said he knew his students were disappointed about the cancellation of their trip to Washington D.C. for the National Concert Band Festival and the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade.

He said he wanted to do something to both boost students' morale and get them excited about playing music just for the fun of it.

"We had been pushing to be able to play some really hard music for the National Festival, and I wanted us to be able to take a little break from the process of practicing those difficult selections," said Carlson. "I don't want to convey that practicing hard is not enjoyable and fulfilling, but it is usually undertaken because there is an end goal in sight: the opportunity to perform in concert."

He continued, "I wanted to give them the opportunity to showcase their talents on that difficult music we had been preparing for the National Festivals, even if the schools remain closed longer than we hope, through developing these techniques for virtual performance. In the meantime, I wanted us to be able to take a break from those preparations of that more difficult material and enjoy some fun music we could just play pretty much right away."

In the "I Want You Back" video, the students are clearly having fun. The young musicians are seen wearing Hawaiian- and beach-themed gear, and a sunglasses-wearing dog even makes an appearance.

And of course it's clear that Carlson had a good time. After he created the backing track for the students to play along with, he said, "I played along with it, like, five times in a row because it was so much fun. I felt like I was in band again."

An Enormous Undertaking

Both videos represented an enormous undertaking that took many days and long hours.

For the "I Want You Back" video, each student recorded and submitted his or her track separately (playing music together doesn't work on Zoom because there is a fraction-of-a-second delay that throws off the synchronization). Then all of the audio and all of the video needed to be stitched together seamlessly.

Carlson credited professional audio editor Joel Mankey and award-winning Mira Costa student video editor (and drummer) Ethan Nahlinder for helping to pull it all together.

"It was long days and some really late nights, although ultimately really fulfilling," he said.

Giving Back to the Community

The project has run up a few costs from expenses such as synchronization licenses and professional audio engineering support. To offset the costs, the Mira Costa Bands are accepting donations of any amount at their booster site.

Beyond that, they want to give back to the community.

Carlson said that any amount received over the expenses of the video would be donated to the MB Feeds the Heroes project which donates meals prepared by downtown Manhattan Beach restaurants to local hospital workers.

Additionally, for those who are interested in creating their own virtual performance video, Carlson has put together a video tutorial here.

Carlson is the instrumental music teacher for the bands at Mira Costa High School. The music department won the Grammy Signature Schools Gold Award in 2014. It was one of three schools in the country to be recognized for its outstanding comprehensive music program.

#CB3 - Dance - I Want You Back

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