Making Music from Home

Allyson Phillips, Staff writer


“I have a dog that likes to sing when I play, so playing during the meets was difficult.””

— Isabel Hobot

Walking into the orchestra room at the start of the third trimester, one might notice two things: how many people fit in the area without breaching Covid restrictions, and how many voices filled the space. Small groups clump together as friends get a chance to see one another in person for perhaps the first time in over a year.
Covid-19 changed the way all classes operated, pushing students out of the building and fixing class work to fit the online-only sphere. But perhaps no classes were more affected than the hands-on classes, such as orchestra. Every aspect of the class had to be reinvented to both fit the requirements of grading while keeping students engaged.
Online learning in orchestra looked little like the class had previously, as with the technology available to the class it’s practically impossible to have a large group play music live over the internet. Most assignments were written work, and any assignments that focused on playing had to be done individually.
Mr. Hebert, teacher and conductor of the Blaine Concert Orchestra, explained that the first two trimesters felt like orchestra class was “on pause” and that Google Meets prohibited the normal interactions of the classroom.
On the student side of things, issues with technology and complications with family schedules meant participation and practice were a struggle, as senior Isabel Hobot explained. “I have a dog that likes to sing when I play, so playing during the meets was difficult.”
Hobot also explained that playing the bass without the rest of the orchestra caused confusion since other instruments usually had the melody. “It was hard to understand some of the music because the bass is the backing of the orchestra.” Playing without hearing anyone else could also be boring without the usual collaboration between instrument sections.
The switch back to in-person learning for the last trimester has caused an almost renaissance in energy and enjoyment. Mr. Hebert best described the situation, saying distance learning felt “like a bad dream” now that orchestra class can get back to its usual routine. He said that it “feels good to play music,” especially since the orchestra can push harder to prepare for the final concert of the year, scheduled for the 25th of May.