HHS music programs adapt to COVID-19 precautions

Mr. Cuthrell holds a Google Hangout with his third hour orchestra class.

   As might be expected, COVID-19 precautions have had a major impact on the music programs at Heritage. Though there are many obstacles that seem to be insurmountable, teachers and students alike are working hard on adapting their classes in an effort to keep everybody safe while making music. 

   Heritage Senior Beth R., a member of the HHS Concert Choir, describes the largest issue that the choir has faced so far this year: actually singing.

   “Singing over Google Meets isn’t really possible. This has made the choir experience super weird, and also a bit sad as one of the only reasons I liked going to school was because of the singing I got to do in choir. Everything is super unknown and different,” says Beth.

   She also illustrated what she saw as choir’s worst case scenario this year.

   “My main concern this year in choir is not being able to sing all together. That is what makes choir really fun. Because the entire school is split into two groups — unless the hybrid model gets changed — singing as an entire group won’t ever really happen. That’s always my favorite part,” says Beth.

   Haley N. ’22, a member of the HHS Orchestra, shares Beth’s concerns regarding the group being separated.

   “Having only half the class with so much separation is definitely different, it’s not really anything I have ever experienced before. It makes it a little bit harder to play and we’re definitely all still getting used to it, but I think we just need a little more time to get used to it. Only seeing the group in person once a week is also a pretty big obstacle,” says Haley.

   Though the negatives greatly outweigh the positives, COVID-19’s impact on the choir program hasn’t been all bad.

   “It is a five credit class when in years past it has been three, this means along with singing, music theory is also involved,” says Beth.

   Haley also cites worries concerning the confidence change that she’s observed in the orchestra.

   “Since we are all so far apart, we can’t really hear each other and play off each other, and the space between each person gives the illusion that you can only hear yourself play. This makes less confident players not play out, as we all feel we have no one to hide behind,” says Haley.

   Heritage Band and Orchestra director Mr. Cuthrell discusses some of the things that have drastically changed in his classes, starting off with the largest change: the Marching Band season being cancelled.

   “It was just not a safe thing to do with over 100 members,” says Mr. Cuthrell.

   Though the season’s cancellation took a large toll on the program as a whole, Mr. Cuthrell’s other classes are looking to have the show go on.

   “We are planning on doing performances but we will not know what that looks like just yet.  We will get more info on September 15th that will guide us in the right direction whether that be outside, small ensembles or in our theatre with a small audience,” says Mr. Cuthrell.

   Through it all, participants of Heritage music programs are mainly focused on staying safe.

   “Singing and choir is so important to all of us, but health is number one. We can’t be good singers if we don’t have good health,” says Beth.

   Mr. Cuthrell shares this sentiment, and is confident in his program’s ability to contain the spread of the virus.

   “I believe we are as safe as anyone. The unsafe issue is what is happening outside the confines of the building in my humble opinion. Large gatherings and not wearing masks is trouble,” says Mr. Cuthrell.

   Though Heritage’s music programs are facing incredibly difficult times, Mr. Cuthrell is staying optimistic out of sheer excitement to be back and in hopes that things will start to turn up.

   “I look forward to being in front of kids everyday. I love teaching orchestra and band to students that work hard and do not take themselves so seriously. I try to be the place where our spirits are lifted as well as our musical I.Q. These are challenging times for our program. We have lost a bunch of kids for various reasons and we are gonna keep working to make this a great place to be,” says Mr. Cuthrell

   Choir, Band and Orchestra have all taken tremendous blows in the past several weeks. However, the love for music is abundant at Heritage, and the groups are determined to make the most of it.

   “Singing is what I love to do. I’m confident that we will make it a great year no matter the circumstances,” says Beth.

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