As with many school programs during this year of Covid-19 restrictions, Troy Community School District 30-C’s band and choir students are learning remotely and are even participating in virtual concerts and festivals and competing for statewide music honors.
Troy fifth through eighth grade choirs held a virtual concert this fall; band students auditioned for Illinois Music Educators Association’s District 1 Junior Music Festival (and several made the cut); and Troy bands and choirs are participating in the Illinois Grade School Music Association Solo and Ensemble Festival this year. All virtually.
How do they do it online?
It was not easy developing programs to teach music through computers, but the instructors said they worked out methods over the past few months, and they are working surprisingly well.
Troy choir directors are Dan Mulligan and Kelsey Robb.
Robb said her choir students meet online with her for their afternoon classes, which include 5th, 6th and 7th Grade Treble and Bass Choirs and 8th Grade Choir.
“We have been working really hard to adapt to this situation,” Robb said. “This setting actually provides us with some unique opportunities, such as being better able to interact with our students on an individual basis.”
This year, choir students work on their pieces at home, then submit to their teachers videos of them singing. For their virtual concert, Robb and Mulligan edited the voices and faces together to create a group choir video anyone could watch.
Mulligan said having the students record themselves singing actually grew their confidence. Bringing them all together for the video also helped them feel some of that choir family closeness.
Troy band directors are William Goetz and Jennifer Carlton.
Goetz said that, although the students do miss working together, he and Carlton have also been able to make time for more individual student instruction. That has been one of the positives of online music education, he said. Not having to focus on tight performance schedules has allowed more time for individual instruction.
“For example,” he said, “in Symphonic Band, there are a lot of different ability levels among our students. Some of them are working on very advanced music, while others are working on music more challenging to their own levels. We are meeting the students where they are.”
Carlton said the band directors this year are also better able to separate wind instruments and percussion, for more individualized instruction.
The directors are happy Troy students are still able to participate in music during this year of remote and hybrid learning.
“It helps them to be themselves,” Mulligan said. “Through music, they can find out who they are. Music gives them a creative outlet they don’t normally get in many other areas.”