The Collective’s Vision of a Creative Community is Alive and Well at Whitman

Left to right in the engineer’s booth sophomore Benjamin Joseph, junior Caitlyn Lupton on the guitar, and at the mic senior Lily Soares.
Left to right in the engineer’s booth sophomore Benjamin Joseph, junior Caitlyn Lupton on the guitar, and at the mic senior Lily Soares.
In the main recording room, music teacher Matthew Hoffman on the drums works with Caitlyn Lupton and Lily Soares on a new song.
In the main recording room, music teacher Matthew Hoffman on the drums works with Caitlyn Lupton and Lily Soares on a new song.
Summer Levinsky plays to the crowd at the St. Elizabeth’s Festival.
Summer Levinsky plays to the crowd at the St. Elizabeth’s Festival.
Sisters Katherine (left) and Lauren Gotard (right) make the perfect duo at this family event.
Sisters Katherine (left) and Lauren Gotard (right) make the perfect duo at this family event.
Solo act Kate Jenkins singing an original tune at St. Elizabeth’s.
Solo act Kate Jenkins singing an original tune at St. Elizabeth’s.
Janna Garden (left) and Chloe Rozenveld (right) performing together live for their community.
Janna Garden (left) and Chloe Rozenveld (right) performing together live for their community.
Solo guitarist Sara Crapanzano strums and sings at the community event.
Solo guitarist Sara Crapanzano strums and sings at the community event.
Erin Collins keeping the festival upbeat on the drums.
Erin Collins keeping the festival upbeat on the drums.
Matthew Brown on the bass grinning and grooving along at the festival.
Matthew Brown on the bass grinning and grooving along at the festival.

St. Elizabeth’s Church recently held a festival that brought live music to our South Huntington Community. Michelle Riley invited musicians from Walt Whitman’s The Collective to perform at the festival, bringing light to the club’s mission to show the community the talent they have been cultivating over the last 3 years of the club’s existence.

The club, under the advisement of Vito Monti and Band Director Matt Hoffman, is geared toward a whole community of students who may not be involved in the traditional music classes such as band or chorus that still seek an outlet for making music. The club offers access to the 3-year-old recording studio where student musicians can take advantage of getting hands-on experience engineering and producing music. “Having the studio as a resource is really a special thing” as it gives these students a unique advantage as they move forward in pursuing music beyond high school. The studio is constantly booked, whether it’s being used to record tracks for The Collective’s upcoming album or a student recording an audition tape to be sent to prospective colleges, the space is an amazing resource allowing students to express themselves and get people listening.

The studio became so popular amongst the band students that collaboration began to form where the students could work together and really take on the spirit of The Collective’s vision of creative community involvement. There is a sense of shared community between students, whether they have been playing guitar for years or are learning chords for the first time, the club’s vision to be all-inclusive really fosters a space for students to be expressive. “We want the community to know that this exists here and that it’s open to anybody in the school to take advantage of this club.”

They have begun workshops that provide students with useful tips for songwriting, techniques on using the studio’s equipment and software, as well as providing direction and guidance for students to keep moving forward in creating their own original music. Matt Hoffman and Vito Monti understand that music can be an intimidating field for many students and since having the production of this club and recording studio, making original music is more accessible to musicians beyond the band room.

“It’s a place where the kids can find their voice. They come in shy and nervous but they always come back and do it again. They’re finding their voices as artists, finding their voices as people and developing their confidence in being able to express themselves and it’s cool to watch them evolve.”

The Collective wants to “keep creating art” and will begin recording new tracks in the studio right away. They will fundraise for the production of the new album set to release by June 2019. Mr. Hoffman and Mr. Monti would like to thank Michelle Riley for inviting The Collective and giving them the opportunity to perform at the St. Elizabeth’s Festival, as well as Walt Whitman High School Principal John Murphy for his support and for really championing the idea of forming the club. Special thanks also go out to SHEF, Sheila Buhse and Miles for Michael for their initial help in funding the program and for their continued support in funding music and the arts within our district.