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Local teachers keep the music playing

Local teachers keep the music playing

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The coronavirus — and the resulting closing of schools and colleges — has had a huge impact on teaching.

Nowhere is that more evident than in music departments.

Instead of performing spring concerts, instructors and students have to meet — and perform — remotely.

And that is a unique challenge.

Eduardo Garcia-Novelli, director of choral activities at Carthage and chairman of the college’s music department, said online formats are “possible or even very good for some disciplines within music — lecture classes like music history, music theory and even music composition — yet more challenging for the ‘doing’ classes like vocal or instrumental lessons.”

As for music ensembles, because of a time delay using online tools like Zoom, “music cannot be produced at the same time from different locations,” he said.

Carthage instructors, he said, “have devised different ways to deal with the situation. One of my instrumental colleagues meets with his students, analyze scores and then, using the function called ‘breakout rooms,’ they are able to have discussions divided in sections grouped by instrument, etc. This has proven to be very helpful.”

At the middle school level, “it is wonderful that there are so many online tools and programs available to us,” said Lindsay Pytel, orchestra director at Lance Middle School, “but there really is no substitute for student interaction in a rehearsal.”

She advises students to “keep practicing and exploring your instruments as much as you can now so that we can keep moving forward when we’re together again.”

Garcia-Novelli’s Carthage students are busy “learning repertoire that we will be performing in the fall, either for the October concert and also for our traditional Christmas Festival.”

Music can be a positive force during this shutdown, said Jennifer Marvin, orchestra director at Lincoln Middle School.

“Of course I want to keep my students playing their instruments, and growing in their skills, but most of all, I want them to have an outlet during this time of fear and isolation,” she said. “Music has the ability to transport us to another place and time, to calm fears, to bring joy and peace and to keep us connected in a time when we have to be apart.”

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