While the virus has not completely halted Central York’s music department, it has certainly brought about changes for the students and instructors. This includes the band, choir, and orchestra programs.
The annual fall “Pops” concert will not be happening, nor will the annual holiday concerts for the groups. However, this does present the opportunity to work on tougher repertoire with the long period prior to the spring concert.
One of the challenges faced by the department is in the integration of virtual students. It challenges the conductors to conduct for a live and a virtual group all at once. The sound synchronization is also tricky to get right, as Zoom is known to have a slight delay in output. It’s hard to know what a concert would look like in this way.
Orchestra is the least affected of the three music groups, as playing stringed instruments does not require any sort of vocal output. The practice room (referred to as the black box by the students) does look different than normal. Music stands and chairs are spread across the room, each set being six feet apart per social distancing guidelines. This means that each student has their own stand rather than the stand sharing system that has long been in place.
As the largest of the three, chorus has been effected in many ways. It would be impossible to observe the social distancing guidelines if the 100+ singers all met together. This is why they are divided into multiple groups, which allows for smaller groups to work with Mr. Lambert, the choir director, while the other ones simply stay in the auditorium.
To try and lessen the amount of airflow through the room, the singers were given special singers masks. These masks are much thicker and larger than a typical mask, and this is for good reason. The mask has a hollow inside so that the sound of the singer is not muffled by the mask, but still limits the air floating around in the room.
Alto An Lai is a proponent of the masks, saying, “They make you sound good and you can breathe in without eating cloth.”
Due to the size limitations of the choir room, the students have also rehearsed outside, with Mr. Lambert wheeling out a piano and a microphone so he could teach the larger group of students.
The marching band’s season has also been affected. They are normally a staple at Central’s football games, but due to the virus, they will only be attending home games. They also have to remain six feet apart during practice and are required to do a self-health screening.
Senior trumpeter Ryan McCabe said, “For the trumpet section, we get masks with a special flap that lifts up. This way, we can still use the instrument while keeping our noses covered. It took a while to get used to, but now I hardly notice it.”
For fellow senior and tubist Kara Mundis, things have been harder to adjust to.
“It’s sucked the life and fun out so much. We didn’t get much time for band camp and a lot of kids are falling behind, which also drains the fun out of it,” Mundis said.
Despite the obstacles that Central’s music program faces, there are pieces in place to help allow for the students to perform. Spring concerts are not ruled out at this time, and the groups look to continue working as long as that chance exists.