A Musical Victory for Ma’ayanot

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A Musical Victory for Ma’ayanot

Shoshana Berger '19

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On Thursday March 7, Room 217, the Ma’ayanot band, won first place at the annual Battle of the Bands at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School. The band consists of Hannah Merczynski-Hait ‘19 on piano; Danit Forman ‘19 on cello; Shira Glicksman ‘19 on bass; Penina Krischer ‘19 on vocals; Elisheva Akselrod ‘19 on drums; Daniella Shlagbaum ‘20 on vocals; and Leora Rothschild ‘21 on vocals.

During their performance, over 100 Ma’ayanot students crowded in front of the stage to dance and support the band. Ma’ayanot was the most enthusiastic audience, but when Shira Glicksman began the rap from their second song Determinate, the entire crowd went wild. After all the bands had performed, the room was filled with anticipation waiting to hear the winners. When Room 217 was announced as the winner, the Ma’ayanot audience was ecstatic and filled with pride.

The week following Room 217’s victory, I interviewed seniors Hannah Merczynski-Hait and Danit Forman, who started the band. I was curious about how the band started, and how it got to where it is now. I started by asking them why they started the band, and Danit answered: “We both obviously really like music, and, except for Heartbeats where there’s less freedom with the instruments, we both felt like there’s no opportunity for musicians and creating a music program.”

They started out as a club in Danit and Hannah’s sophomore year, which proved to not be conducive for creating a band. The next year, they enlisted Ravi Schwartz ‘18 (vocals), Penina, Shira, and Elisheva, and Daniella eventually joined as the lead singer. They had Mr. Tiefenbrunn as a staff advisor, which helped the band become a more cohesive and successful unit.

I then asked them what it was like competing at Battle of the Bands, both in 2018, where they placed second, and in 2019. The first year they competed, they did not know what to expect. They arrived at Kushner, and discovered that it was not an environment that they were used to, and they “felt very out of place” (Hannah). Despite what other band’s told them after hearing their sound check, Room 217 did not believe they were going to place. “We were not there to win at all, we really just wanted to perform” (Hannah). When they won second place, they felt surprised and validated.

This year, they “weren’t nervous until [they] got there” (Danit). After a difficult sound check, they again did not believe they were going to place. However, when they went on stage, they lost themselves in the music and simply enjoyed playing. Hannah said that, with all of the Ma’ayanot fans crowding in front of the stage, “You feel like you’re famous, even though you’re definitely not.” Danit added, “My friends were right in front of me, and they’re cheering for me, and that helped me a lot, having that pumped me up even more.”

When I asked them what it felt like to win first place, Danit immediately answered with: “Crazy.” The third and second place winners were announced, and Room 217 said to themselves that they had fun, and it was okay that they didn’t place. Still, the moments before the winner was announced were filled with anticipation, and even a little bit of hope. When the host said, “And in first place… ROOM 217,” the band jumped and screamed in pure surprise and joy.

Danit reflected on the night: “We were the first all girls band to ever be in Battle of the Bands, and the fact that we were the first all girls band, and the first all girls band to win, already I feel like that’s crazy, that we have that piece of history forever.” Hannah added, “That’s our legacy.”

The final question I asked was what will happen to the band now that Hannah and Danit, along with Elisheva, Penina, and Shira, are graduating. They answered that Daniella and Leora want to keep it going, and that it will be up to them to take charge. It will be hard, and require a lot of effort, but we hope that they will continue to bring this fun and music to the Ma’ayanot family.  

 

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