Junior Michelle Whitney sings Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" during the talent show on Nov. 2. The Garage Band placed second. (Photo by Jacqueline Chao)

In new elective, Garage Band plays pieces by Led Zeppelin, Nirvana, Rolling Stones

When there weren’t enough students enrolled in his AP Music Theory class this year, band director Bob Ratcliff established a new elective: Garage Band.

Ratcliff said he created this elective at the request of head of high school Brooke Wells.

“We started the Garage Band elective to provide an organized opportunity for our students to take advantage of our world-class recording studio and to help foster more ways to have creative and powerful music around our campus,” Wells said.

And Ratcliff is no stranger to garage bands — before coming to Country Day, Ratcliff wrote a book, “The Garage Band Method,” about the teaching method he had developed to help adults learn music faster. The method began with teaching the blues scale and the 12-bar blues so people with varying musical abilities could play together.

Country Day’s elective consists of five band members: junior Michelle Whitney on vocals, sophomore Elijah Azar on the bari sax, junior Max Kemnitz on the guitar, junior Aaron Graves on the bass guitar and sophomore Allie Bogetich on the drums.

Bogetich said her interest in rock was sparked over the summer when Graves and Kemnitz approached her to start a rock band outside of school. Although she originally declined, once she was told it would be a scheduled elective, she said she was “instantly sold.”

Azar said he joined to get more experienced playing in the band..

The elective meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays before school, but some students also practice outside of class; the band’s recording sessions are on weekends.

On a typical day, the students arrive at 7:20 a.m. and warm up for about 10 minutes.

“One of us will choose a song, and then we will work on it individually at home before coming together in class and working on it together,” Bogetich said. “(During rehearsals), we work on the song we are currently playing, working out little mistakes and tweaking thing here and there. We usually just need to work on transitions from one phase to another and the endings.”

As class comes to an end at 8:10 a.m., the band plays a song it already knows to end on a high note. Ratcliff said he lets the students direct themselves through the class and merely guides them.

“He usually just unlocks the classroom, checks in with what we have planned for the week and leaves us to our own devices.” Bogetich said.

The Garage Band has already recorded two songs — “Immigrant Song” by Led Zeppelin and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana. The band is learning “Money” by Pink Floyd and “Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones. Along with that, the band has performed at the winter concert on Dec. 20, when it played “Roxanne” by The Police. It also performed in the pep rally on Jan. 18, playing “Immigrant Song” and “Pressure” by Muse.

In addition, the band plans to perform at events and clubs outside of school.

—By Arikta Trivedi

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