How much music is left in music class?

Sofia Kovalenko, Staff Writer

The line is thin between music and din. It was difficult enough to organize sounds into music when school was normal; it got more difficult over Zoom. 

Now, we are back in person—well, half of us—and it has only gone downhill. With no instruction manuals to turn to, our music teachers have been getting rather creative, incorporating more puppy pee-pads than ever before. 

The highest echelon of creativity has undoubtedly been band, with their unorthodox materials well suited for our unorthodox school conditions.

“We use puppy pee pads to collect the condensation from brass spit valves. Each student also plays with a special mask with an opening for a mouthpiece,” band teacher Jared Tanner said.

A similar challenge is faced by the choir: they are only able to sing in one room for a certain amount of time. After that, they must have an air exchange to keep singing safely.

We have come so far in our knowledge of what does and doesn’t work, and what we really need to be careful of, that I am not worried at all about singing together in person ”

— Robin Wood

“We have moved during each class period, walking to the bleachers in the stadium, weather permitting, the stage, and sometimes even small ensembles in the hallways,” choir teacher Robin Wood said. 

Still, sorting out the in-person conditions is only half the battle won.

“It can be difficult to remember that there are 20 to 30 students who are not in the room, but still ‘in’ class, especially when they are just silent black rectangles–no comments or cameras,” Wood said. 

Even with full hybrid attendance, there is no way for the choir to feel complete this year as the whole class cannot sing together at the same time… It’s a headache to merely imagine the lags and echoes from the Zoom students!

“The hardest part of this year has been trying to be a ‘choir member’ when you are basically just singing by yourself in your room!” Wood said. 

This unprecedented pandemic is a learning process for everyone—even teachers. Wood would have turned her curriculum on end if she could possibly predict what this year would turn out like, but it isn’t all bad.

“That hindsight is based on the fact that the students’ confidence is boosted in person as they sing together in groups and remember how beautiful it sounds,” Wood said.