Orchestra during COVID: Music students make the most of their time


photo illustration: Emma Clute


COVID-19 have affected various aspects of school life. Many returning orchestra students come back to experience an unfamiliar year amid the new regulations.


Prior to returning to school, students were given the option to return back to school in-person or be part of the Committed Distance Learning program offered by the district.


“Students who were not returning for the first semester were able to sign up for CDL orchestra,” senior and CDL student Rahul Nalam said.


The pandemic has caused new regulations to be put in place that has made practice look physically different this year for returning students. The composition of instruments is limited as the orchestra is split between virtual and in-person. COVID-19 has also forced students to not share stands and maintain a distance of six feet away from each other at all times.


“The orchestra looks physically different through the spacing out of the individuals, as well as not having all of the instruments at every in-school practice,” junior Caleb Staten said.


Practicing and rehearsing for upcoming performances has been significantly more difficult than previous years. This is due to limited time with the hybrid schedule and the limited returning members.


“Rehearsal is different because, not only do we have less people, but we are also more spread out. We usually don't have the normal instrumentation, so we don't really know all of the parts and how they go together,” Staten said.


In order to compensate for this, returning orchestra students have to spend more time practicing out of class during their hybrid days.

“COVID has made students practice more outside of school,” Staten said.


The pandemic has also restricted large groups of people gathering, forcing concerts to be recorded virtually. Orchestra students record their songs at school and compile them into a video for the public.


“The concerts have to be recorded, which is different than the usual ‘come and watch us play’,” Staten said.


CDL students make up a separate orchestra that consists of different practices and rehearsals. Instead of participating in groups, the CDL members play into a website that will evaluate their performance and give them feedback.


“Normally we have class two to three times a week and get on a website to play pieces together. The website is like an A.I. that compiles everyone's recordings and plays it at the same time to make it seem that we are all playing together,” Nalam said.


Some CDL members feel that learning music is more difficult with online instruction. Students may find the instructions to be confusing, or they feel like they have to teach themselves the music.


“The biggest differences that I noticed was the teaching style. I guess it's hard to teach normal classes on the CDL program but teaching a music class is ten times harder,” Nalam said.


In order to make up for these virtual lessons, CDL members also have to spend more time outside the typical classroom day to practice their musical piece. They have to make up their own practice session to make improvements on their own errors.


“Practices are often confusing because students really don't know what they’re doing most of the time in class. Rehearsal is all do it yourself,” Nalam said.


The pandemic has drastically altered what the orchestra looks like this year, but the advisors and members are attempting to make the most out of it despite that.


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