Muted mics and music notes

Orchestra class during virtual learning has its difficulties


Contributed by Thomas Wright

Orchestra teacher Thomas Wright teachers his orchestra students who have their cameras on and their mics muted. Students are allowed to unmute themselves to play confusing music or to ask questions.

Imagine being asleep and all of sudden being awakened by the sound of a loud instrument being played at only 8 in the morning. Well, this is the new reality for band students’ families due to virtual learning. 

Playing an instrument virtually is not the easiest thing to do, orchestra teacher Thomas Wright says. Many students are struggling to not only keep the connection to playing their instruments but also keeping the motivation to play in general.

Having orchestra class on Google Meet is not exciting or fun according to Wright. Students have to play their instruments on mute. They have to listen to what he is playing on the piano and match his pitch and rhythms. Students have to judge themselves on how well they are doing since Wright can no longer hear them playing.

“Trying to have everyone unmute and play together just sounds like a traffic jam in New York City,” Wright said.

However, it does not affect the students’ grade if they can not play their instrument. Wright understands that certain home situations do not allow an instrument to be played at 8 in the morning. Wright can grade the students by having  them record and submit playing samples from their music. Wright says that the goal is to just keep the students playing. 

“Playing an instrument is very difficult,” sophomore Rachel Kelley said. “You have to be dedicated and inspired to keep playing through this time in life.”

Another sophomore Jayda Jett says that the biggest struggle for her is to keep the motivation to play as well.

Kelley also says it has been hard for her to keep a connection not being able to see how people react to her playing. Orchestra is not having any concerts so students cannot see other people and how they react to their playing which is hard for many of them since that is what excites them and gives them motivation to continue playing.

“Seeing the look on people’s faces and seeing how they connect and relate to the music is a beautiful thing” Kelley said. “And being virtual you are not able to have that experience.” 

Orchestra is not having concerts as of now, but as a challenge for the students, Wright is encouraging students to play and record simple melodies and post them on social media. Wright says that since we have all been going through a hard time, he began to do this to share the happiness of music to others.

“It’s a way to bring a little joy to others and to push me to share music with others,” Wright said. “Small songs of peace, hope, and comfort.”