Music students share their experiences with participating in band, choir, orchestra

Having an in-person school year during a global pandemic means extra steps to keep all teachers and students safe. Those steps varied widely for students of orchestra, band, and vocal classes but in spite of all those changes, music goes on.
Q: What are some challenges you have faced in this year’s band?
A: “Overall band has been really great. The splitting of the band has helped more individuals push themselves farther. However, it can be rough when we rotate rooms and are left without the percussion section. Without the percussion, some songs do not hold together as well or sound as great. With having to social distance, we aren’t set up in the usual horseshoe shape. With all of us facing the same direction, it’s harder to connect with musicians across the group when you have parts together.” –Clarinetist senior Ashley Vilaysing
Q: Can you explain your instrument covers and why you must wear them?
A: “We have to wear the instrument cover to prevent COVID-19 [spread]. It’s a mask for the instruments. For baritones it just covers the top of the instrument.” –Trumpet player junior Chris Isbell
Q: What music classes are you involved in? Which class do you enjoy the most? Why?
A: “I am in band, chamber singers, and orchestra. I find them all equally fulfilling, and I especially love that my friends are involved in them as well.” –senior Alisara Arial
Q: What has been the your most memorable moment this year? 
A: “I think my favorite moment from this year was watching the people who were coasting through band finally start playing and learning once the band got split this year. Overall, my favorite memory would be the time I wrote a pep-band arrangement of Megalovania and had to distribute it personally to avoid copyright things.” –Chamber Singer junior Carson Brooksher.
Q: How has interacting with music this school year been different than previous years?
A: “Music, particularly singing and playing wind instruments, has been pretty dramatically different this year. Because the facilities at Hays High School don’t allow for quick ventilation, we had to limit the singing rehearsals to 30 minutes in one room. We keep the exterior and interior doors propped open to keep fresh air moving through the room and continue to sing in masks while sitting six feet apart. I am happy to report that there has not been a single reported case of COVID-19 transmitted in my classroom. The pandemic also meant that we did not perform in public at all in the fall semester and that we pushed our spring performances as late as possible. It has been quite a roller coaster ride, but I am happy to know that we have kept the risk of worsening the pandemic down by taking sensible precautions. Now, in our final stretch of school, most of the students who are 16 years or older and all of the music department have been vaccinated to do our part in protecting each other and our community.” –Music Instructor Alex Underwood
Q: How has music helped you during COVID-19?
A: “While obviously some procedures have changed for how we perform and practice, the actual types of music we do stayed the same. It has been nice to have something that has stayed the same.” –Chamber Singer junior Jocelyn Rigler
Q: Has HHS music classes lost opportunities this year due to COVID-19?
A: “Yes, we did, because auditions for district and all that had to be done online. We normally have professors come in throughout the year to help us with music, but we can’t do that in person, and a lot of our competitions weren’t in person either.” –Cellist junior Karson Russell
As the year comes to a close, music students are thankful they had the opportunity to participate in person this year. Despite missing some events, reformatting others, and taking a few extra steps each day, overall students agreed it was worth it to keep the music playing.