‘It takes a lot of dedication’: Music students learning virtually despite pandemic

‘It takes a lot of dedication’: Music students learning virtually despite pandemic

HENRICO Co., Va. (WWBT) - Along with their regular classes, students who are in Glen Allen High School’s band or orchestra are having to take on another challenge - learning how to play an instrument through a computer screen.

Music is not drifting through the hallways at Glen Allen High School as it once did pre-COVID. Instead, musicians are not only facing the challenge of learning how to play a new composition but are also doing it virtually.

“It takes a lot of dedication from the students,” said Ryan Addair, Director of Bands and Orchestra at GAHS.

Addair said he never expected to start his first year at Glen Allen High quite like this. However, he’s taken the challenge in stride, even if it means doing something you wouldn’t expect at rehearsal.

“We start together, we end together, but they have to be muted all the time,” Addair said. “So, I can’t actually hear anything they’re doing during the rehearsal process.”

As students recorded a version of Leroy Anderson Foundation’s Sleigh Ride, Addair never heard one note until those recordings were sent his way.

“About 160 students or so who submitted audio, so I had to take 160 files and mix them for the audio,” he said.

This is the process Addair has been doing all semester. Students record themselves playing the song and then send it to him for feedback, a stark difference to what band or orchestra practice typically sounds like.

“It would be a constant back and forth. I would hear what they play and then I would give them feedback immediately, but that is just not possible in this setting,” Addair said.

The musicians have also had to get creative. Some percussion instruments cannot be taken out of school, so it’s left these students honing in on sounds.

“They recorded on whatever instruments they could really find to make it sound as close to Sleigh Ride as they could make,” Addair said. “Hopefully, we pretended well enough that maybe there’s some pots and pans in there and whatever!”

While this pandemic has certainly brought challenges, Addair said his musicians are trying to stay on a high note.

“The ability to make music still has brought joy to their lives,” he said.

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