During normal times when the boys are on campus, the hour or so before dinner on Friday evenings is reserved for Cardigan’s “Coffee House.” Unlike the name implies, however, this tradition has little to do with coffee and everything to do with community and music. Held in the Peck Room in Cardigan Commons, everyone is invited to participate by singing, playing along with an instrument, or simply enjoying the music.
Because this spring has been anything but normal, the Coffee House has been forced to “virtually” reinvent itself. Led by woodworking teacher John Burritt with his acoustic guitar and Director of Music Kevin Franco with his cello, the Coffee House still convenes live online via Zoom every Friday night at 8 p.m. campus time.
Unfortunately, because of differences in internet speed, online meetings usually experience a slight delay called “latency” that can be quite challenging for musicians trying to play in time with one another.
Undeterred, Mr. Burritt and Mr. Franco learned through experimentation and found a way to make it work. Using some basic home recording equipment and Apple’s “GarageBand” app, they work together to record the basic tracks for that week’s song list. Then, during the live Coffee House, they share those tracks and participants can sing and play along from their own homes while watching everyone else on their screens. For anyone unfamiliar with a particular song, Mr. Franco has organized all of the song lyrics and guitar chords into a common Google Folder that all participants can access. (Mr. Franco has also hosted separate online sessions to teach the boys how to use GarageBand to create and record music.)
The music generally falls into the classic rock, folk, and blues categories and pulls heavily from Mr. Burritt’s favorites. Last week’s setlist included such classics as the Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl,” and Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young’s “Teach Your Children.”
While we all long for the day we can hold the Coffee House on campus again, one of the happy results of the online version is that many of the boys are joined by a parent who can also be seen singing along in the background. It’s all about community.
The Coffee House is in session live on Zoom this Friday night at 8 PM. Join us!