West Catholic High School band and choir honors veterans with virtual National Anthem

Posted at 2:28 PM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 14:28:33-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Typically they would be performing in the Memorial Day Parade or over the louder speaker during morning announcements, but due to COVID-19 that wasn't an option this year for West Catholic High School's band and choir.

This Memorial Day, the high school students orchestrated and performed a virtual rendition of the National Anthem.

The band and choir directors say putting the project together was not easy, given the fact they had to coordinate more than 140 high school students and deal with the struggles of a virtual classroom.

"At first we set up a couple of zoom meetings thinking, we can just play through the National Anthem and sing through the National Anthem and maybe do a couple of takes and we'd be all set," said Joe Houdek, choir director at West Catholic High School. "Well, turns out that it was a little bit more difficult than that. Putting it all together with just the internet delays and little things like that. It wasn't really possible just to do it all together at once."

They eventually got it right though and had each student individually send in their contribution to be edited into one seamless video.

"A lot of kids told me, 'I did like 15 takes,' you know, so they're doing a lot of playing a lot of practicing at home, which is the ultimate goal as the band director. Get them to practice and get them to work on their craft," said Darren Larise, band director at West Catholic High School.

Both Larise and Houdek says the video turned out exactly the way they had hoped. All of their students, singing and playing together to pay tribute to our nation's heroes.

"It's not a perfect recording by any means, but it is 100% authentic and it's just shows all the work that the students did to collaborate and put something out really nice together," said Houdek.