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