Orchestra finds new ways to practice and perform



PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT: Students in the top orchestra get together to practice at school. Students practice Tuesdays after school in-person, however on other days they practice virtually.

Nicole Rooney, Reporter

Classical music plays throughout the room as students a part of orchestra get together to practice after school. The orchestra has found new ways to learn and practice since remote learning has started.

Students involve themselves in orchestra so that they can create new friendships and express themselves with music.

“I joined orchestra as a sixth grader because I wanted to play an instrument. Both of my brothers were in the band and I wanted to be different,” senior Abby Blas said. ”Along with playing and learning, I love the people I’ve met in orchestra. The community is always super kind.”

Orchestra has provided new opportunities and experiences for many students according to junior Camryn Cox. In orchestra, students are able to create new friendships and learn new things as well.

“The main thing that I enjoy most about being in orchestra is that I have the opportunity to communicate through music with my close orchestra friends with me on stage, as well as the audience,” Cox said. “Music is a universal language where anyone can understand or interpret what you’re trying to express, and that’s why I find it so special.”

On a normal school day, all of the orchestra students would practice together but right now it is not an option to do that every day anymore, so they have had to make compromises if they still wanna practice together.

“Due to online learning, we do a lot of our practicing online,” Blas said. “We have also been meeting once a week for rehearsals in order to prepare for our first concert.”

When the orchestra finds a time to practice in person, there are a lot of new things that they have to do when they practice in order to make sure that they stay safe, yet still accomplish what they all came together to do.

“Currently, our top orchestra has been meeting once a week on Tuesdays after school and we wear masks, bring our own individual music stands, and we sit within our sections four to six feet apart from one another, everything is very distanced,” Cox said.

As changes have been made to how they usually practice and get graded, that has made doing assignments and turning them in different.

“We also use different recording apps during the week to record ourselves playing individually as well as in groups,” Cox said.  “In addition, we are given music theory assignments to submit online as well.  Most of our assignments are usually due by the end of the week when given.”

Due to remote learning, orchestra has had to find new ways to practice and perform shows.

“It’s almost completely different. One of the only things that’s the same is that we still have after school rehearsals,” Blas said. “Mostly everything about orchestra has changed this year. Instead of playing together in an orchestra, we play alone in our rooms.”

Just like anything, there are challenges to practicing for orchestra. Because of the fact that the entire way that the orchestra practices has been changed, there are many challenges that they have to work around right now.

“One of the biggest challenges when practicing and performing right now is that everything is virtual, and we usually submit recordings very frequently of our playing, and sometimes it sounds bad because of the mic quality or internet issues,” Cox said.

As well as having to play music for orchestra, there is also a special connection between the students that is made. With virtual learning and not being able to interact as easily, this connection has been hard to obtain.

“It is very different, especially when things are online and virtual, and there’s always new incoming people each year entering our top orchestra,” Cox said. “It’s hard to really perform and rehearse well when none of us really know each other and our playing well.”

As the students get a special experience with orchestra, their parents get to watch them grow along with their talent.

“What I like most about [Camryn] being in orchestra is that it gives [her] a space to explore her talent on the violin with other kids who are doing the same. [They] learn about the beauty of classical music and not just with their instrument alone- but when they all come together for one piece, it’s incredible,” Camryn’s mom Sarah Cox said. “When you start out, those above you challenged you to improve and perfect your skills. And now you get to do the same for others.”

Although this year has been hard so far, the students are optimistic of a brighter future in the next semester for orchestra.

“I personally do not think there can really be any changes made from how orchestra was conducted this semester because I was content with the way the orchestra was operated before quarantine,” Camryn said. “It will get better after virtual learning eventually ends.  I know that the changes made for virtual learning are only temporary.”