At new club, students explore the ska music genre

Photo by Kirstin Nichols

By Sahara Portlance

If you’ve looked at the Arundel Clubs list or even looked up at the walls while walking in the hallway, you may have noticed the Ska Club. The club is new to Arundel and was started by our school’s music director, Ian Burns. Mr. Burns has a passion for ska music and thought that ska club would be a nice way for students that share his passion to express themselves and maybe even get other students interested in the genre. 

Ska is a form of music that originated from Jamaican reggae and mixes in American blues and jazz. It’s a fun and energetic sound that includes typical jazz instruments such as trombones, trumpets, saxophones, and pianos. It then mixes in the bass guitar and drums for a funky sound called ska.

I decided to visit ska club and listen to what they are working on. As I entered the band hall I was immediately surrounded by the sound of trumpets, saxophones, and to my surprise, flutes. Students were walking around the band room playing anything from a jazz scale to a part from their favorite song.  I started to survey the room more and noticed that these were all the instruments you would see during a typical band class, like flutes and clarinets. I even saw a bassoon. Mr. Burns was incorporating classical orchestra instruments into ska music. 

 As Mr. Burns started to step onto the podium, the room suddenly got quiet. He began to pass out sheet music for “Superman” by Goldfinger. When each section got the music, they slowly began to talk about it or practice it individually. The majority of the room was excited about the song selection although there were a few students that weren’t familiar with ska and didn’t know the song. Before the band played together, Mr. Burns reminded the students, “ska is straightforward.”

 The students started sight reading (playing the song before practicing). As they played, they slowly began to get the rhythm. Members of the club began to sway in their seats to the beat as they played. The funky rhythm made it hard to resist dancing. Even I started to dance in my seat and tap my foot a little. I noticed that Mr. Burns was also much more relaxed during this club then he typically is during regular band class or orchestra. When I asked a member of the club, Giana Mason, why that is, she simply stated, “this is his music.” The atmosphere in the room was fun and relaxed.