Online learning offers unique challenges for music classes


HC Chamber group celebrates after a performance in Februrary 2020, a very different time.

Trevor Davis, Reporter

NTI has created numerous obstacles for musicians in school. Without the ability to meet regularly in person, music classes have been struggling to stay afloat. Teachers have needed to adapt to new online sources in order to teach.

Technology has become the primary focus of my professional growth,” Orchestra Director Julie Foster said. “I’ve spent hours upon hours learning new web-based tools that have allowed me to teach music remotely, synchronously, and asynchronously.”

With these brand-new platforms being introduced to teachers and students, it seems as though there may be a strong learning curve. Foster would describe the student response to this new learning as negative.

“It’s been disappointing. We are all trying. I’m trying. My students are trying,” Foster said, “but it’s not what any of us signed on for. We all want to be together in the same space and experiencing the music synchronously, the way it was intended. We miss each other.”

In addition to the negative student response, NTI has been detrimental for the teachers as well.

“Sometimes I get really sad, seeing that my students are struggling. And I don’t mean musically.” Foster said. “I want to reach out and give them a virtual hug and a pat on the back and tell them it’s going to be okay.”

Aside from the Henry Clay Orchestra, the student body in the Henry Clay Marching Band has been struggling as well.

“I have no motivation anymore,” Junior Ginny Price said. “I don’t have a purpose nor a reason to play. This is because I am not playing for anyone, not working towards a big production. It is hard to motivate myself when there is nothing pushing me towards it.”

The majority of music classes have not been meeting entirely. There have been no performances with one another, and there haven’t even been rehearsals together. Contrary to this, the Henry Clay Marching Band has been having rehearsals multiple times a week through this NTI. The band has been taking precautions to continue meeting together as long as possible.

“We had to order special masks to play our instruments. Each instrument has a different mask, due to different mouth pieces and sizes,” Price said. “We social distance, we wear normal masks when we are not playing, and we have been meeting in smaller groups with less people.”

Though the response from teachers and students alike has been fairly negative, they are looking for the silver-lining in all this.

“It’s a definite negative in the short term,” Foster said, “but looking ahead the optimistic side of me wonders if this imposed limit on collaborative music-making will ultimately generate a renewed interest and appreciation for music.”

The future for music is very much in the air at the moment. Cases are rising and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon. There have been no recommendations directed towards Orchestra, Band, or any other music classes throughout this time. Though live music has been indefinitely halted so far, one can only hope it will have the opportunity to return soon.