slide image

Merry and Bright


​​PAAM student plays pianoThis December, music students marked the holiday season with special performances showcasing their talent and love for music education. At Pacific Avenue Academy of Music, 5th and 6th grade piano students prepared for a recorded virtual concert set to debut via YouTube on December 16th. 

“The holiday concerts are great for our musicians because it really motivates them to practice but it also makes them feel connected with their audience,” shared Sophia Hernandez Lin, piano teacher. “Everybody wants to spread good cheer, and I think that through music we’re able to do that.”

As a class, the young musicians learned “The Hanukkah Song,” which challenged their coordination because they had to play with two hands at once while reading the music, an especially difficult feat for new students. Two groups of advanced students also prepared duets. Leilene Baez and Leilani Ponce de Leon learned “Carol of the Bells,” while Alejandro Inda and Hailey Rosales rehearsed "We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”

“What I like best about playing piano is that I can be creative in what I can do,” shared Hailey. “There’s many songs I can practice and learn at the same time.”


JMS Choir performs medleyAt Jurupa Middle School, choir students led by teacher Laila Giampietro prepared for their first in-person recital since the pandemic began. The singers performed for an audience of students on December 10th, but Ms. Giampietro hosted a Google Meet the night before so choir students and their families could enjoy prerecorded performances of the holiday songs.

“Holiday performances are magical,” said Ms. Giampietro. “There are so many songs that the audience already knows. They hear the first note on the piano and they’re already thrilled.”

Students sang many holiday favorites, including a medley composed of four recognizable songs and a few jolly dance moves. “My favorite piece is the medley,” shared Mindy Canizalez. “We just act silly the whole time.” Mindy’s classmate, Solange Rivas, agreed: “Mine’s also the medley because [of] the energy that we all get and the motivation we get when singing it. It’s a really beautiful sound.”


RHS orchestra members
Meanwhile, Rubidoux High School orchestra students continued a special tradition: performing at the City of Jurupa Valley Annual Tree Lighting. On December 3rd, the musicians donned festive sweaters and hats, playing cheerfully for community members as kids stood in line to meet Santa.

Among other pieces, the orchestra performed “The Nutcracker Suite,” which students first played virtually last year but wanted to attempt a second time. The inability to properly listen to one another and tune their instruments made virtual performances less enjoyable, and the musicians were excited to be commemorating the holiday season together once again.

JUSD high school bands and choirs also performed at the event, which Sarah Choi called an opportunity to “come together and make music with people in our community.” The instrumental music director has participated in the event since its inception, but the orchestra has only attended a few times because the program is still young.

“It’s special to us since we’re such a small orchestra and we’re the only orchestra in our district,” shared Fabrisio Aguilera, senior violinist. 

Whether the performance is live or recorded, holiday music spreads joy and enriches the lives of performers and audience members alike. “[Music] helps students feel like they’re a part of something,” shared Ms. Hernandez Lin. “Part of the school, part of their community. It helps them connect with others.”