Inside the music room

Sadie Coxe, guest writer

At every Kabbalat Shabbat, a  group of musicians perform behind a main singer or on their own; a group unofficially titled “the Kab Shab Band.” It’s a group of talented student musicians that we listen to every week. David Solomon, Director of Arts Education and planner of most Kabbalat Shabbat, sees the band as integral to each Kab Shab. 

“I think the Kab Shab band are the unsung heroes of Kab Shab,” Solomon said. “The Kab Shab band is made up of a group of really talented student musicians who nearly every week have to get up in front of the students.”

The band is more complicated than it first appears. It is a loose conglomerate of musically inclined students who work together to create a performance. Members of the band shift in and out, depending on the schedules of the students playing, as explained by instrumental music teacher Gary Prince. 

“They all can perform at the Kab Shabs, but there isn’t an official band. Any group can perform at Kab Shab who wants to,” Prince said. “Sometimes that group of people you mentioned will come in here and rehearse. During community time sometimes I’ll help them with pieces but often it’s a very, very student-run.”

Neither the administrator nor the teachers really know what the schedule is; just that when the time comes, this group of students is always prepared. . Sophomore Sean Levitan, a drummer in the band, talked about what it’s like to work in it. 

“I think what a lot of people don’t know this about the Kab Shab band is that we can be incredibly spontaneous,” Levitan said. “We practice maybe once or twice before the actual day. At least, that has been my experience.”

Often, being in the Kab Shab band and performing nearly every week requires a high level of flexibility for those involved. It’s quite a commitment to perform every week, especially on top of schoolwork and extracurriculars. Because of this, coordinating performances can be quite difficult. 

“We play a very wide variety of solos and we have to be sort of accustomed to all sorts of stuff,” Levitan said. “But specifically . . . we usually aren’t playing exactly what we’re supposed to.”

Levitan explained how adjusting to fit such a wide variety of pieces can be hard, and sometimes they don’t even have a song picked out. Often the band comes together just for fun and to figure out what sounds good while they’re playing together. 

“The student who is singing will either approach Ms. Benedek or Mr. Prince and say ‘I wanna perform this song,’” Solomon said. “Or they might approach members of the Kab Shab band directly and say ‘I want to sing this. Can we work together and collaborate to create something?’”

All three of the aforementioned people encourage students considering signing up to go for it. At the end of the day, the band is just a group of dedicated students working and coordinating to do what they love and that’s open to anyone who wants to try. 

“I think that a lot of people miss that all you have to do [to be part of the band] is have a talent that you want to share,” Levitan explained. “This is a great place to start working on performing, because it’s really a fairly supportive audience of your family and friends. To some people that might seem scary, but I find it comforting.”