The Show Might Go On

COVID and the Western Branch Orchestra


Mrs. Emerson

Students “tune in” during class to practice songs for upcoming performances. Both students in person and online played along with Mr. Glasco during class. “A lot of the practicing is Mr. Glasco playing and us muting ourselves and playing along,” Micah Lee, 10, said.

Sarah Butler, Journalist

The orchestra is known for their stunning performances. From performing in New York to having concerts with Mark Wood, the orchestra has done it all. With all of the restrictions in place, many adjustments have been made to the way orchestra is conducted this year.”

“We are looking into doing a virtual concert,” Mr. Glasco, orchestra teacher, said. “The most we could do right now is a virtual concert where people submit videos and we just put them all together into one big video.”

While the possibility of in-person concerts this semester is completely out the window, Mr. Glasco is putting a virtual concert together instead that will take place on the twenty-eighth. With needing to buy the rights to the music and mixing it all together, a virtual concert would definitely be more work than just performing in person. 

Some students share his concern with putting together an in-person concert. “It would be hard to organize a concert of a hundred people, it’s a lot of people that have to come together,” Maddison Henderson, 10, said.

Having to maintain social distance with a class that large might seem like a tall order, but with a decreased class size and precautions in place, the school system is looking to find ways to make it safe for all students.

“We’re going to have to pull a lot of the instruments out of the racks, pull them out of the closet, we also have a protocol for wiping them down between uses,” Glasco said.

While wiping down instruments between classes might seem excessive, it will be worth it for the students who want to come back to school and play. Some are even disappointed by that lack of Zero Bell, which was an extra bell of orchestra class that took place before the school day officially began.

“I was excited to have that this year, but I understand why they took it away,” Micah Lee, 10, said, “but next year I hope they put it back.”

With the current restrictions as a result of the pandemic, the classes that haven’t been removed have been required to adapt in a large way. The curriculum for orchestra is largely performance-based, and with not being able to perform, students have had to play independently. Instead of tests and quizzes being done in front of the class, Mr. Glasco is taking advantage of the different functions of Schoology and having students submit recordings.

“Recording is nerve-racking too, but you can take multiple takes and you don’t have to do it in front of a class,” Henderson said,  “so you don’t have to worry about messing up in front of that whole class.”

While some students, like Henderson, are having little to no difficulties with the newer format, others are struggling with technology. If a student’s laptop doesn’t have a proper camera, it becomes difficult to tell exactly who was playing, or what they were doing wrong.

“The voice feature is weird, and it takes some getting used to,” Lee said.

Although the changes have been difficult for teachers and students to manage, there is hope that when the pandemic winds down things can return to how they used to be.

“I have to say that I appreciate the school system,” Glasco said, “they’re very supportive of us in this, and it’s been very difficult.”