Band and orchestra adapt to virtual learning


Sarah Boutouis

With the departure of band director Tyler Elvidge, band staff and students are adapting to the new changes his departure will bring. Despite the circumstance, band staff hopes to turn this obstacle into something positive.

Saachi Kuchu, Guest Contributor

Members of the band and orchestra that are enrolled in the virtual academy are adjusting to a new learning environment which can present some challenges in making music together.

“It’s also very difficult, actually impossible, to make music together,” orchestra director Julie Blackstock said via email. “There is no platform that exists currently where musicians can perform in time together. The microphones and Zoom settings aren’t advanced enough to make that a possibility yet.”

However, band and orchestra directors are doing what they can to ensure the content being learned is the same for both virtual and face-to-face learners.

“A normal day in the virtual band starts from joining the Zoom,” sophomore Natalie Wang said via text. “And then just following along with the face to face people by going through warm-ups and fundamentals then working on music.”

Even though the content of the day is similar, there are many aspects of online band and orchestra that have changed due to band and orchestra moving online.

“I think the aspect that is the most different in online orchestras is not being able to play together, which is one of my favorite parts of being in an orchestra,” sophomore Kritika Ramesh said via text. “For virtual orchestra students, it is extremely difficult to play together without there being a lag. For that reason, we have to mute ourselves and practice on our own.“

Giselle Menezes, a harp player in the Camerata Orchestra, has faced challenges with technical aspects.

“Some challenges I face are not being able to hear the nuances of the music properly through Zoom,” Meneze said via text. “And that virtual instruction makes it harder with the more detailed physical aspects of playing the harp.”

She has tried to solve these technical issues to improve her sound quality.

“I’ve had to buy a microphone,” Meneze said. “So that my sound quality is better and I’ve adapted so that I can work out the technical aspects individually.”

Although it is difficult for some students to adapt to learning online, Avighna Phanibatla has found a positive aspect.

“We have more time to practice without feeling self-conscious of how we sound and have more time to work on certain sections before having spot checks!” Phanibatla said via text. “Also, it’s overall a pretty interesting experience.”

For senior Dhruv Dilbaghi, more time at home means he has more time to focus on other school work and aspects of band.

“One pro of attending band virtually is that I don’t go to rehearsal due to safety reasons, and I have a lot more time to do homework and stay on top of my courses,” Dilbaghi said via text. “I also don’t really need to keep up with most of the Marching Band music as much and I can focus on region music on my concert instrument.”