Online Music Lessons

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Callista Robertson '22 practices piano at her home.

Sophia Wagner, Reporter

Callista Roberston ‘22 shuts her clarinet case, however, she doesn’t place it in her band locker as she usually does. Instead, she places it on a chair next to her desk. Robertson is the first chair clarinet in City High School’s Symphony Band. Due to the COVID-19 quarantine, Callista has been continuing her musical studies at home. Although difficulties have arisen involving the group aspect of the band, students are working hard to create a process that moves the band along in an unconventional situation. 

“It’s definitely hard not to see people and work with everyone like normal. But I think we’re all figuring out what works best for each of us, and hopefully, we’ll be able to pick up where we left off and be even more motivated and inspired once we’re back together,” Robertson said. 

Alice Boerner ‘22, another clarinet player at City, expresses concerns relating to the band as a whole. 

“It’ll be hard because we’ll have less practice playing as a band and playing together, but I’m hoping they’ll assign us scales and short pieces to play and we’ll just turn it in online. It will be really different and it will probably be hard to get back to playing as a big group, but we’ll be able to do it if a lot of people practice,” Boerner said. 

With each individual at home, practice plays a key component in keeping the band together. 

“Things are definitely different when we’re not able to meet in person, and we’re having to figure out the best ways to stay in touch and keep working on our music and everything,” Robertson said. 

Not only is practicing vital to keeping members of the music department up to date, but it also goes on to determine the future of the different groups. 

“I think that with band being optional for people to participate in because of everyone having school at home there will be [fewer] people who continue practicing while we are at home. It will affect the band, at least next year because along with the other class everyone will be more behind. I hope that the people who do continue to take the class we’ll have assignments to practice on at home,” Boerner said. 

One of the most important factors in the music department are the consistent lessons provided by teachers and directors. However, due to regulations established by the district, teachers will not be allowed to continue with one-on-one private lessons. Despite this, many teachers are reaching out to groups of students to continue their musical education. Megan Stuky, an orchestra teacher at City High, is working to keep students involved through the COVID-19 quarantine. 

“We have and will continue online learning each week with 3 categories: listening, playing, and community building. There will not be rehearsals due to technology limitations. Students have access through CANVAS to Sight Reading Factory for enrichment activities and we continue to have weekly zoom meetings to go over assignments for the week, check-in with each other and just be together!” Stucky said. 

Stucky went on to point out how many students are continuing private lessons outside of the school, on platforms such as Zoom and Facetime. Callista Roberston has been playing piano almost her entire life, and quarantine has not stopped her from continuing her piano education. 

“My teacher and I have been doing lessons over Facetime, but each teacher has made specific arrangements with each student and they’ve been super flexible to make sure everyone is able to continue their lessons,” Robertson said. 

Of course, with music being an auditory subject, virtual learning has caused some slight setbacks in the usual course of practice. Kent Zdan ‘22 plays viola and violin with the Symphony Orchestra at City. Kent has been continuing lessons outside of class and has struggled with online platforms such as Zoom.

“Connection isn’t always great over Zoom, but it’s not much of an issue. It’s just a bit annoying because of latency,” Zdan said. 

Robertson has faced similar issues. 

“It’s definitely harder to have lessons over [a] video call because of the sound and video quality, and delay. Technical stuff like that,” Robertson said. 

Despite the problems musicians face, they are all hopeful and excited to get back to work after the quarantine. 

“I’m hoping that we can continue moving forward and that this setback won’t have a negative impact on our progress for next year,” Robertson said.