Fine Arts finds ways to connect music virtually

Sofia Oyarzun, staff writer

As the school battles through the year with hybrid learning, music teachers in the Fine Arts Department shared their plans to find a system that works for their respective programs. These programs are used for the in-person connection they create through rehearsals, live concerts and performances. However, with the screen now splitting that connection, teachers of the Fine Arts Department are determined to create a new virtual dynamic that will benefit both students and teachers.

Orchestra Director Kristin Meyer put a great deal of effort prior to the beginning of this school year into improving her abilities to make the most out of the move to a virtual space.

“This summer, I participated in a program through Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts [in New York City]. It was all about inviting art leaders, educators and conductors from around the world to reimagine the arts in a digital space,” Meyer said.

This program involved workshops, lectures and other activities with the goal of sparking individual innovation. With new insights from this program, Meyer developed a special project for the Glenbrook Symphony Orchestra (GSO) at GBS.

“[I thought], ‘What is a way that we can embrace the screen, in an authentic way as musicians, rather than just a barrier?’” Meyer explained. “The screen, otherwise known as the silver screen, has been around for a long time, so we decided to have a year long project called the Silver Light Festival.”

Along with the GSO working diligently to unify the orchestra, sophomore Cali Wilkinson, Premiere Choir member, explained how the choir directors are also working to consolidate different members of the choir.

“We have individual recordings, so Mr. Toniolo and the other choir teachers have been working to put all of our individual recordings together to make a virtual choir,” Wilkinson explained.

With projects like these created in effort to combat current circumstances, certain challenges are hard to navigate through. Wilkinson explained how from a student’s standpoint, these changes make it more difficult to complete tasks.

“I think learning from each other, especially for me, and not being able to hear anybody else singing [was especially difficult],” Wilkinson said. “It’s hard to learn off of other people and to sing certain parts.”

While Zoom is the foundation of remote learning at South, its connection issues impact the classroom atmosphere. The internet lag not only affects the teachers’ ability to give feedback, but also immensely impacts connection on the students’ end. Sophomore Alyssa Yagelski, Symphonic Band and GSO member, described a difference in playing music from home and playing at school; the musical tie now lost.

“In GSO, they have a motto, ‘play the music, not just the notes,’” Yagelski said. “So basically, you can easily learn the notes, but to really play the music, emotionally, it’s definitely difficult to learn over zoom for sure.”

However senior Hannah Jon, a member of GSO,  acknowledged a positive side to the situation showing the opportunities that reside in the situation.

“This year we’re much more independent,” Jon said. “But it’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s a new and different experience, and I think it’s a valuable experience as well.”

Co-Band Director Brian Boron explained that once students are allowed to go back to school full-time, he will not overlook the opportunity to connect with his students.

“I think I took the student interactions for granted,” Boron said. “It hit me pretty hard knowing that I wasn’t going to get to say goodbye to the seniors in person. I’m going to cherish my time with the students more [this year], having gone through this experience.”