When Newfield’s Coronavirus prevention regulations first came out, one of the most uncertain and confusing of these was arguably that of the Music Department. All we were told was that wind instruments and choir students would be twelve feet apart. So what exactly goes on in practice? What goes on now, and in years to come, when these classrooms aren’t full of students who are eager to make music?
In these classes, the general routine seems to be as follows, with more specifics depending on which music course you look further into. These classes take place in rooms other than the music classrooms in order to accommodate social distancing rules. Virtual students log onto a meet for the first portion of the period to go over plans for the day and the online assignments, which largely seem to be recordings of virtual students performing. Then virtual students sign off and this begins a rehearsal for the in-person students with appropriate distancing measures. The bands, which are performing outdoors at the time of this being written, will begin indoor rehearsals with masks tailored to each instrument as of November first. On top of the less consistent rehearsals, music lessons are less frequent as well. All of this has an impact on the way the music itself is being taught. Students are no longer preparing for a concert in December, nor are they rehearsing five days a week, making the learning process slower and less consistent.
This is obviously going to have some effects on the music department going forward, and while it’s impossible to gauge what those are when we are still in the middle of dealing with the pandemic itself, Newfield’s music teachers have some predictions. Without the concert season, they’d imagine it ends up harder for students to recognize their accomplishments and have them acknowledged.
Chorus teacher Ms. Meichner gives the dire prediction that enrollment into music programs could see a drop thanks to the difficult adjustment to a hybrid model. Mr. Martinez and Mr. Austin of the Orchestra and Band programs respectively imagine that it will be more of a challenge to get students back on track to perform at a typical level for a typical year. It’s easy to see how this impact could be much more long-lasting as younger students who are currently learning their instruments on a somewhat more basic level will come into Newfield’s music program in years to come with less of a grasp on these concepts at first, leaving them behind typical high school music standards as everything takes longer to learn.
In the face of all of this, these music teachers have a surprisingly positive outlook for what their students can get out of music while everything around us has changed completely. They all give different versions of the same sentiment; the sentiment that as a team we can get through all of our darkest days, and that music is a vital way to come together to tackle those hardships, hopefully giving all of Newfield’s music students a renewed sense of appreciation for their art, and the school as a whole a greater appreciation for the art they consume day-to-day. Even if not everyone at school is taking a music course, the dedication these teachers have to the art they teach is something that we can all learn from, especially at a time when nothing is for certain. At the end of the day, this outlook means there’s a spark of hope that music programs will live on with only a speed bump in the road as students are inspired by the hope that music brings them.