Student composers arrange music for pep band


Associated Student Body (ASB)

Pep band performs in the final home game of the year.

Carlmont’s student composers demonstrate their creativity by participating in the arrangement of music for both the pep band and their enjoyment.

Home football games are popular among Carlmont students because they provide an excellent opportunity for students to show support towards their school. The Carlmont pep band also attends the games to play music and raise school spirit. Among the many songs they play, a handful is composed or arranged by students at school.

Carlmont musicians both compose and arrange music, so it’s important to know the differences between the two. When composing, an original piece of music is made and is not based on any existing music. On the other hand, arranging is when one listens to an already-made piece of music and converts it into notes that can be played. 

“This year, there were two arrangements that were written by Carlmont students and played during the football games,” said senior Ethan Htun, who arranged one of the two songs.  

These two arrangements were “Victory Fanfare” and “Undertale Medley.”

Composing and arranging music is difficult, especially when starting from scratch. However, the feeling of accomplishment when an arrangement or composition is complete is what motivates student composers to continue their craft.

“Perhaps just creating something new from scratch that is original is the most interesting part,” Htun said. “Because composing is not the easiest process, and there are often lots of things that don’t work, whenever you do create something, it’s pretty special.”

The process of creating a piece of music also comes with a lot of research. For Htun, his passion for composing music stemmed from watching music theory videos on YouTube.

“I went down a rabbit hole and started watching music theory videos. I thought it would be pretty cool if I could make something out of what I learned regarding chords and music,” Htun said. 

For Alexander Makeev, a junior at Carlmont, the inspiration for creating music comes from the people who will listen to it. Makeev does not compose music for the pep band, but nonetheless, he still creates music in his free time. 

“I feel like music means a lot to many people, and it also means a lot to the people making it. It’s nice to be a part of that process,” Makeev said. 

There is no set process for writing music, according to Makeev. For him, it’s more of a random idea that comes from playing the piano since all the notes are laid out. 

Likewise, Htun starts off his compositions with a simple yet catchy pattern on the piano as well. 

Sophomore Arthur Gu, much like Htun, is also a student composer who arranged for the pep band. His arrangement, “Victory Fanfare,” was played several times at football games. However, he still has other compositions that are not played by the Carlmont band. 

Similarly to Htun, Gu said he enjoys composing music because it allows one to make something out of nothing.

Lindsay Wong, a sophomore clarinet player in the pep band, enjoys playing student-created compositions.

I think it’s very cool to play songs composed by students because the students get to show off their skills and compose songs that we actually like to listen to,” Wong said. 

With the process of voting in class for a song they want to play, the pep band can properly enjoy playing more modern songs on their instruments.  

I think it’s very cool to play songs composed by students because the students get to show off their skills and compose songs that we actually like to listen to,”

— Lindsay Wong

There are different reasons why Wong likes both professional and student-composed pieces, but one reason she enjoys the latter is because student pieces are much shorter, and less practice is required to play them well.  

“Not everyone can play difficult music, so playing student-composed pep band songs is definitely a lot easier than some of the professional pieces we do play,” Wong said.

With this in mind, student composers continue to arrange and compose songs, whether it is for the band or for fun. 

“It’s quite gratifying seeing everyone come as one and play something that you wrote,” Htun said.