“It’s Been Harder”: Music and the Pandemic

This is a piece of writing from the high school Journalism class


At 1:00 on March 24, Twelve U-32 band students were admitted into a Zoom meeting. Black squares filled the screen; only a few with their videos on. They sat in awkward silence until the teacher delivered great news: Covid regulations had changed, and the students could practice together, in person. 


David Powelson, U-32’s band teacher has been teaching his classes remotely since last spring. It’s been rocky, and the future of band classes has been shaped by this year’s musicians. 


In middle school, students have been receiving some guidance on their technique through zoom meetings., This is no easy feat when the internet connection is sketchy and the students are just beginning to learn.  “You get this like pixelated image and the kids trying to play,” David said. “You’re trying to figure out…. are their fingers really on the holes?”



Students in the high school have been seeing David once every other week, on an hour-long Zoom meeting. Along with trying to teach music, there has been a 5-minute debate about sugar on snow with pickles. 


At the beginning of each class, everyone shares some positive news. Still, the space between each meeting causes students to lose motivation. “It’s been harder to stay motivated to practice,” a ninth grader Samantha Martzke said. “There haven’t been concerts or festivals to practice for.”


A freshman Greta Little has been taking private piano classes, which has helped her stay on track. This constant contact is what has been helping some students practice. But this isn’t an option for everyone. 


Remote band class has consisted of composing and recording, instead of your traditional ‘let’s play together’ class. This has worked out for many students, like Samantha, “I’ve gotten to look into what actual artists and musicians do and how they create their music,” she said. “It’s been fun. I’ve liked it” 


Powelson has seen this as an opportunity to create a new type of class. Music students are more independent, creating their own pieces. 



Unfortunately, composing isn’t what everybody wants. People sign up to play music with their friends, do concerts, and go to festivals. For some, inputting notes into Noteflight, a music notation app, and playing into the microphone for several hours can be exhausting. “I definitely miss being in a band room and playing with other instruments,” said Greta. 


While remote, Greta didn’t want to be writing and analyzing music.


This year has been a mixed bag. But everyone wants to get back to a normal class, where music is played with others. 


With coronavirus still a threat, band classes won’t be normal next year. David is worried that the current band setup has not worked with many of his middle school students. Playing remotely isn’t allowing students to enjoy playing, and a positive relationship is what hooks younger students. Those who play move on to the high school band. But without enough interest in the middle school, the high school won’t have enough musicians.


“I think there’s potential for good,” David said, “there’s potential for very, very, very not good.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.