Pandemic sounds flat note in orchestra classes


Chloe Seifert

Strings consultant Laura Pinfield receives flowers at a 2019 orchestra concert

COVID has made it harder for both teachers and students in orchestra. Teachers have had to change their way of teaching to be sure that e-learners and in-school learners have the best experience they can in the class. 

String Specialist Laura Pinfield, who teaches with band director Christopher Houze and orchestra director Melanie Richardson, said she is thankful there are two teachers in the classroom. 

“Mr. Houze will come into the office and work with the e-learning students, and help translate the things that I’m doing out in front of the class,” she said. “So it’s a really wonderful situation that we have the two of us to help the e-learners.” 

 Richardson, who is filling in for Amy Davis who is on leave, said the separation of students is a challenge.

“I definitely think it’s harder, so in orchestra I sympathize with [the students] for doing this e-learning thing,” she said. “I can’t even imagine taking lessons or being in a music class where you are not physically there with the teacher. We can’t really help them so much with the things that get lost over the internet.”

Pinfield said the gap in sound from e-learners to people in school affects the way students are being taught.

“Just the nature of an ensemble is that we’re together,” she said. “And because of the delay in the technology, it is not possible for e-learners to put their microphones on and play so that they can hear and play at the same time as the in-class students.”

Richardson said some major events have been postponed due to COVID-19.

“We just found out today that all-county orchestra is canceled,” she said. “All-state auditions were happening, but there won’t be a big all-state conference like there usually is. Everyone who went was always looking forward to the conference.”

Although some events have been called off, Pinfield said that the district told her that concerts will be permitted.

“I was just recently notified that concerts are allowed for orchestra,” she said. “With certain situations, we have to come up with a plan and we have to present the plan to administration.”

Richardson said  things are changing every day, and Pinfield said she hopes concerts will continue to be allowed.

 “In an orchestra class, that’s what we do, we work toward a performance,” Pinfield said.

By Riley McKee