Henry Smith plays the violin at a Marshall choir concert

Performing arts unpaused

After bouncing back from a year online, the music department has proven it can’t be silenced.

The virtual setting forced students to take their musical education into their own hands and adapt to COVID’s demands.

“[Last year,] we experimented with new things in band such as recording yourself at home [and] sending in the MP3 file to sound edit an ensemble together,” marching band drum major and senior Kelly George said. 

Senior Krishna Girish Kumar said the isolation from his peers made him feel separate from the orchestra.

“Not having a director in front of me demotivated me to actually practice,” Girish Kumar said. “If I’m not motivated to play the instrument, […] it defeats the purpose of Orchestra.”

Orchestra director Catherine Bond said her program struggled with the inability to hold in-person concerts.

“Our performances are our unit tests,” Bond said. “When you don’t have those intermediate goals, it can really take away from the momentum and motivation of the student and the teacher.”

The music departments also suffered a loss of students last year. 

“I think a lot of students dropped [choir] because it was almost kind of depressing, just sitting in your room and singing by yourself,” choir student and sophomore Sophia Welch said.

But now that school is back in-person, Welch has a different message.

“If you love to sing, and it’s something you really enjoy, you should keep pursuing it,” Welch said. “You’re going to find [choir kids] in your classes now who share that same connection with you, and you’re really going to build friendships with them.”

Choir director Kelli Pierson was no stranger to the stress of online learning.

We missed our art form,” Pierson said. “We desperately wanted to hear live voices around us again, and have the incredible feeling of success when we achieve something we have been working so hard towards.”

However, Pierson said she believes virtual learning had some positive moments.

“We all learned new things about ourselves and grew in ways we never thought we could,” Pierson said, “We made the best of a really difficult moment in history.” 

Bond said the orchestra department hopes to present a concert this year, even if it has to be virtual.

“We have a plan to livestream our fall concert,” Bond said. “If for some reason, [the health department] says we can’t have people in the building, then we can move forward with everything as planned.”

To abide with COVID guidelines, Bond cancelled the orchestra’s tradition of playing pop songs at their fall concert.

“Normally, for the concert, we try to do some pop tunes, but trying to get all 112 orchestra students onstage together probably wasn’t the best idea with COVID,” Bond said. “ Hopefully for [the winter concert,] we can do it.” 

Now that the ensemble is back together, Bond plans to make the most of it.

It’s a tradition for seniors to play Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D major” at their spring concert, but due to the last two years being virtual, this couldn’t happen. Nevertheless, Bond plans to give those seniors a redo.

“I’m hoping we can have [the classes of 2022, 2021 and 2020] all come back and play with the orchestra to play their final hurrah because they missed it,” Bond said.