The club ‘tune’ to come


Daniel Bethke

As depicted in this A-wing poster, Riff first meets on March 22 in room A134 from 3:20-4:20 p.m.

Daniel Bethke, Perspectives Editor

LHS has a robust music department, but perhaps not all music-inclined LHS students, in a program or not, are able to enjoy the craft in smaller, more personal settings.

English teacher Xavier Pastrano noticed this gap and decided to act. The group he founded and will advise, “Riff,” will meet Mondays in Room A134 from 3:20-4:20 p.m., with the goal of bridging the gap between students’ vigorous musical talents and the relative dearth of student bands. The club will be meant for students who are or aspire to be musicians, and it will be a platform for them to bolster their knowledge about recording, equipment, musical genres, music theory and history. Pastrano also wants to provide opportunities to experiment with various instruments and effects by bringing in equipment, and he hopes to eventually have Q and As with local professional musicians.

“[The first meeting is] going to be a quick introduction as to what this club is and what I would like to do with it, but more importantly it is what the students want,” said Pastrano. “I want it to be fairly student led. I’m considering having some student[s]… who would be interested in organizing presentations about theory, how to make certain genres of music, music theory or music history.”

Especially because of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has slowed down Sioux Falls’ vibrant music scene, Pastrano hopes that Riff will help perpetuate that scene with a younger generation of talented musicians. Thus, Riff will have a strong social aspect, providing an opportunity for students to make new friends or better know people to whom they seldom talk. 

“I would love it for students of all backgrounds and of all various instrumentations to come together and say, ‘I didn’t know you played drums! Maybe we could get together and jam some time,’” said Pastrano.

In high school, Pastrano himself played in a few bands with friends, using his experiences as an outlet for learning and camaraderie. However, he now realizes how little he knew then about pedals, amps and guitar maintenance compared to what he knows now. Having been a musician for more than 20 years, Pastrano wants Riff to be a place for students to share the experiences, knowledge and opportunities he wishes he had more of as a high school student. 

“I wondered, ‘What if I was a high school student and had somebody show me some of the things I could do with guitar tones or effects?’” said Pastrano.

Pastrano hopes that the club will foster knowledge, camaraderie and creativity through the power of music… and, in his mind, music truly does have a unique quality to it—an unrivaled potency and power that unites all.

“Music connects people… it is that universal language… sometimes [music] can speak more to people than words can,” said Pastrano. “I see students every single day in the hallway with earbuds or airpods. Some students resort to that as a way of isolation, but I also know that it can be a way to communicate and meet new people.” 

If you are interested in developing your musical skills and knowledge or meeting new people and connecting via music, Riff first meets on March 22 in room A134 from 3:20-4:20 p.m.