PHOTO: Students continue to play their instruments from home during online learning.
By Joe McIntyre
Music classes are adjusting to distance learning by creating virtual performances, which require precise audio and video editing done by professional audio and video engineers.
For Davis High student musicians, learning music as a collective while quarantined has been no easy task as they navigate through a process that demands daily rehearsals with their music instructors and instrument sections in Zoom breakout rooms.
Upon learning the music with their sections, students then record themselves playing the music along with a “click track” that they listen to through earphones. Sophomore Vivian Xu, a violinist in the DHS Symphony Orchestra, has found these click tracks especially useful.
“The backing tracks really helped me stay focused on where I was in the music, have a stable beat and even let me know where certain phrases in the music were,” Xu said.
While music classes have enjoyed aspects of their new way of learning, instructors and students are eager to regain the human connection they once had in the music rooms at DHS.
“Virtual classrooms can never replace the experience we share as musicians when we come together and connect in the same place both mentally and physically,” orchestra teacher Angelo Moreno said. “A sniff of one’s breath, a dip of the shoulders, an intense facial gesture, a nod of the head, can all shape the music in profound ways.”
Virtual performances have also created an increase in pressure on instructors and students to have assignments finished early so that they can be put together for a video.
“[Distance learning] forces me to be prepared way ahead of time,” choir teacher Karen Gardias said. “I have to have everything ready a month ahead to have the time to edit audio and video.”
Some music instructors are discovering new ways to improve their classrooms in the future. For example, band director Thomas Slabaugh hopes that the expansion of music programs in the online realm will help student musicians find new resources.
“I believe that we will have additional ways for students, through Canvas and SmartMusic, to complete assignments and have more resources for support outside of class,” Slabaugh said.
Music classes may have to continue working through Zoom until a vaccine is developed, as the COVID-19 pandemic will keep music groups out of concert halls.
“If there’s a reliable vaccine, we hope that we can open with limited seating and social distance measures in place for the performers and audience,” said Eric Richardson, the district’s Performing Arts Facilities coordinator. “I hope that when COVID-19 is said and done, we can go back to being drawn together to share in performance art.”