Since the fall of 2016, English teachers Matthew Horne and Jonathan Super, better known as the band Toast Ghost, have hosted concerts during Learn every one to two months. While initially taking place as solo Toast Ghost shows in Mr. Super’s room, these small performances have grown to packed concerts in C113 that feature a wide variety of bands of all grades and genres.
Horne said he decided to start organizing Learn gigs because he and Super remembered concerts during school hours when they were teenagers.
“One of the things we remembered being in high school is that there were always bands playing,” Horne said. “There were bands playing in the cafeteria at lunch, they were playing [at] after school activities, there were all these concerts and that wasn’t a part of Marshall.”
Horne said he hoped to inspire other students to start playing music as well.
“I knew there were kids who played music and there were always kids who pick up guitars and have bands,” Horne said. “So we wanted to get an opportunity to start that by performing music ourselves. It would be this way to generate interest and get kids to come to a show and that would then transfer into a school-wide community thing where we could have punk rock shows that kids could be involved in.”
Horne is responsible for organization, which involves working with the administration to select a date and allocating time for each set. However, the shows are mostly student-run. Students ask to be a part of the show, work with Horne to decide a theme for each concert, bring their own gear, and decide what they want to play.
“Mr. Horne is sort of the lead when it comes to logistics, but everything else, from setlists to breakdown, is a group effort,” senior Andrew Milhorn said.
A majority of student performers have been playing concerts since early in their high school careers.
“I’ve been playing Learn shows since sophomore year,” Milhorn said.
While Learn is a time students take to visit with teachers about their assignments, the audience for the shows have surprised the players themselves.
“I think we have committed fire safety code violations in the past, so I know we’ve had a lot [of people],” Milhorn said.
Junior Marco Lagendyk said he enjoys going to Learn concerts with his friends and seeing Toast Ghost and the other bands play their music live.
“I think the Learn shows are a fun time to hang out with your friends and see people’s musical talents on display,” Lagendyk said. “I love hanging out and just having fun [listening to the music].”
Horne said besides givingstudent bands a platform, he also wants to build an audience for these bands and show students that it is okay to let loose.
“The goal is to have bands and musicians play but it’s also a place for kids to see how to interact at a show,” Horne said. “A lot of kids don’t know that it’s okay to dance, and have fun, and be crazy and weird. It’s like a cool thing. So the hope is student bands have a platform, but the main thing is that we’ve built an audience for them too so they can learn how to play to an audience, [and the audience] knows how to be an audience and support their classmates. To me that’s a really valuable thing and the thing I’m most proud of.”