Music education adapts to online learning

Reagan Logan

Music education has long been a part of many schools’ curriculums. An emphasis on fine arts has become even more prominent in recent years. With schools expanding their programs accordingly, it’s not news that academic closures have left many students without their usual form of instruction.  Like other courses, music education has been largely moved online, either in the
form of instructional video and graded submissions or through live classes. Both school programs and independent lesson facilities have had to make structural changes in order to continue providing lessons.
“I prefer normal music instruction, but online has definitely been interesting,”
College Park High School sophomore Carson Parker said.  He’s a guitar student at School of Rock The Woodlands. “There’s more of an emphasis on connection than anything else.”
Parker’s instructors have been providing lessons online through video conferencing, but other programs are taking different approaches.
“It’s very nerve wracking to record a video of you singing to submit to your teachers,” TWHS choir member junior Kylie Sambirsky said. “It is very hard to take choir as a class and put it online. They assign us parts of the song we sing for homework. We still get to work with our literature because [Mr.] Newcomb [TWHS choir director] had a lot planned for us, but has to find a way to convert that to online learning.”
The Woodlands High School’s choir has taken an approach similar to that of their band and orchestra: video submissions.
“We’ve had a few conferences that talk about stuff for the future. But apart from that, we’ve had weekly assignments that have been pretty easy,” TWHS orchestra member junior Arun Parameswaran said.  “We get to choose one assignment from a list of different things. We aren’t really learning music, but instead just making sure we can still play.”
These methods of music instruction are taking place on a national scale due to restrictions on gatherings and school closures. A school in Tuscaloosa, Alabama is taking similar steps, and a pessimistic attitude has developed among some students regarding the topic.
”Music education as we know it is not even remotely possible online,” Northridge High School junior Elizabeth Webber said. “I’m doing my flute lessons through Zoom [an online video conferencing service] and my computer doesn’t pick up the high notes. We are using Smartmusic to submit assignments. My recital is also cancelled.”
Some student musicians, however, point out the positives of the nationwide stay-at-home orders.
“It’s exciting seeing all the musicians in the community who are just bored giving out knowledge for free, and there’s also an incredible amount of instructional content being created online,” TWHS percussionist junior Kevin Donoughue said. “I think young musicians may become better at music through this tough time.”
Ultimately, online music education has definitely taken steps away from the kind of instruction most students are used to.
“I just miss band, and I really hope that this doesn’t affect marching season this fall,” flutist Webber said.