The Virtual MegaBand


Part of the “Pub­lic Engage­ment Suc­cess Sto­ries” series

By Louise Camp­bell and Geof Holbrook

Most teenagers today have grown up with dig­i­tal tech­nolo­gies, access­ing music via YouTube and shar­ing links through a myr­i­ad of social media.  With­in this con­text, mak­ing new music with teenagers takes on a new dimen­sion, expand­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ties for how we cre­ate music, with whom, and where. Louise Camp­bell and Geof Hol­brook col­lab­o­rat­ed with music teach­ers Susan Strunc of Lind­say Place High School (Pointe Claire, Qc) and Steve Dubin­sky of West­wood Senior High School (Hud­son, Qc) on the Vir­tu­al Mega­Band, a frame­work that allows a large num­ber of peo­ple to make music togeth­er regard­less of where they live. Our chal­lenge was to engage the stu­dents’ facil­i­ty with both their acoustic instru­ments and dig­i­tal devices to co-cre­ate a new video-music work for launch on YouTube.

Over the course of 14 in-class work­shops, Louise and Geof led the stu­dents in a col­lab­o­ra­tive process sim­i­lar to dance cre­ation: that is, a feed­back loop between impro­vi­sa­tion and com­po­si­tion. In gen­er­al, Louise led the stu­dents in impro­vi­sa­tion, from which ideas were cho­sen to car­ry for­ward to the next work­shop. Geof used these ideas to com­pose open scores, which Louise then used in the next work­shop to gen­er­ate more mate­r­i­al through impro­vi­sa­tion. Stu­dents then sub­mit­ted audio-visu­al sam­ples of their com­po­si­tions, record­ed on their dig­i­tal devices. Using these sub­mis­sions and record­ings of the work­shops, Geof edit­ed the final work together:

Giv­en the dis­tance between the schools and their respec­tive class sched­ules, the 90 stu­dents involved were nev­er in the same room at the same time. The Vir­tu­al Mega­Band tru­ly brings teenagers togeth­er to cre­ate music using the tech­nol­o­gy of our times.

We’re always on the look­out for more suc­cess stories!

If you have heard of or par­tic­i­pat­ed in an ini­tia­tive you have found par­tic­u­lar­ly inspir­ing sur­round­ing the issue of pub­lic engage­ment, please con­tact Louise Camp­bell –

Read more suc­cess stories:
Cre­ative Music Edu­ca­tion Online Resources
Pub­lic Engage­ment in Schools – Lind­say Place High School (n° 21)
Cura­to­r­i­al and Art Crit­i­cism stu­dents meet Con­tin­u­um in The OCADU Project (n° 20)
I.S.S. Is Some­body Singing (n° 16)
Toronto’s New Music 101 (n° 16)

Direct link: The Vir­tu­al MegaBand
Return to full Bul­letin – June 2016