Like most things this school year, the band department’s annual holiday concert was canceled and replaced with a virtual concert, bringing a new set of challenges.
The band was split up into woodwinds and brass for a few in-person practices during virtual learning. During rehearsals, students wear a facial mask with a slit over their mouth to be able to play. Additionally, students place a bell cover on the instrument to prevent air escaping into the open, and students are spaced out to follow social distancing guidelines.
During the last in-person rehearsal, players completed a test run for the recording of the virtual concert. Still, the virtual concert had a different feel for players than years past. Clarinet player, junior Maddie Balsman said, “There is always an exciting and nervous energy about performing that can’t really be felt in a virtual concert.”
Preparation for the concert looked different this year, Balsman said. During hybrid, they could practice in class. However, during virtual, practicing was left up to the students. “Mr. Thurmond, our conductor, really has to trust that we are practicing our music because he is not in the room to hear us play,” Balsman said.
Clarinet player senior Anastacia Gibbs and her section have faced the challenge of not practicing together. “Before, we would use each other as a resource and play with each other,” Gibbs said, “Instead, all work had to be done alone with the hopes it would fit well with everyone else.”
The entire band department has encountered an unpredictable year of in-class playing and learning. “It was also difficult to rehearse during hybrid learning because only half our class could be there at any given time,” Gibbs said.
Flute player senior Rebekah Hartwig, said she has felt disconnected from her peers. “This year I feel separated from everyone and it feels like we are just band students playing a piece instead of an actual ensemble.”
Hartwig has also felt a loss of motivation. “There have been many times where I wished I didn’t sign up for band since I don’t really get much of the pros to the class (like concerts, rehearsing together, etc).” Luckily, with some strong passion and private flute lessons, Hartwig said she’s learned new things which helped bring back her motivation.
Similar to band, the orchestra was forced to change their tempo during auditions for district and state choir. For district auditions, students recorded in class during hybrid learning. For Missouri, All-State Orchestra auditions students recorded virtually.