Changing the key

With school going online in March of 2020, the Capo arts programs have had to make changes to remain as normal as possible.

Angel Perez and Danielle Blyn

With online and hybrid learning, the music, choir and drama programs have developed creative ways to keep learning familiar and informative. Through this, the arts have been trying to find different approaches to create environments where everyone can still play, act and sing together while remaining distanced and safe. 

The music programs have been affected by state guidelines that say no one can play wind instruments as they spread germs across a room to others. Andy Waldukat, band and orchestra director, has been discussing the best plan for the rest of the school year with his leaders. 

The plans for band and orchestra include a future concert, whether that be a drive-thru, socially distanced or otherwise is yet to be determined. 

The orchestra and choir perform their version of Gloria in the Capo Performing Arts Center.

Although they will be in a different format, concerts are something that the program is trying to do so friends and family can see the school year’s progress. They are the only opportunities for orchestra and band to play together in the symphony orchestra. 

One of the most significant differences the orchestra and band programs have had to go through is not seeing each other in person. The music program is very close, and they often spend passing periods and lunches in the band room, where they can always see each other. Students who have been in the program for a long time, such as senior bass player Pallavi Gaikwad, created friendships with students in other classes and often meet to do homework or just hang out. 

“Orchestra kids are not as quiet as many people think they are. Being on a huge group call, I do miss that interaction that would happen within my section,” Gaikwad recalled. 

While Gaikwad and other students feel this way, Waldukat also misses the more personal side that comes with being a director of a close and amiable group. 

“When the school day is done, Mr. Waldukat, the director and conductor, gets to be Mr. Waldukat, the teacher who is just noticing and seeing what people are up to and how they are doing socially, emotionally or what is going on in their lives,” Waldukat mentioned. 

The program is also trying to remain as tight as they have been and create bonds with new members that are usually formed by being stand partners or placed in sectionals to work on music.

Even with all the changes, the kids in the music program, including senior french horn Ari Wohl, feel that being online has helped strengthen their skills. This is due to music history and theory lessons once a week. 

“The skills we are learning in music theory are interesting, and I will apply them as I learn music later in life. I think it would be cool to integrate them more,” Wohl discussed. 

Many music students expressed similar thoughts, saying that they believe that theory lessons will help this year and years to come. 

The goals for the music program are very similar to those of the choir. The choir teacher, Erin Girard, and the whole program hope to play a concert soon. 

“We are all trying to come up with solutions to concerts. We are planning on having a couple of songs available to our public,” Girard mentioned. “I am hoping that by the time the spring semester comes around, things are a little bit different so that we can at least perform together, even if it is not in front of an audience.” 

They are currently experimenting with a new program called BandLab that allows students to record themselves and mix their voices with others individually. This program could be an option for concerts in the future. 

Like the band and orchestra programs, the choir program is also affected by the lack of in-person communication since so much of what they do is singing and interacting with others. They cannot do quite a few events this year, but the classes still try to create those close bonds. 

Choir board president, Makenna Malkin, and the rest of the board hope to create fun events that are safe for choir members to be a part of and become closer.

“Our board has talked about doing a movie night. At the beginning of the year, we delivered music folders to everyone in choir with music and welcome letters,” Malkin explained. 

Choir classes help create bonds that other classes cannot since they spend much of their time getting to know each other to make something perfect. With school being online and going back soon, they are excited to grow their bonds and get back to work on upcoming projects. 

Camerata goes on a retreat to the mountains to bond and develop.

The drama department has also been affected by the distance learning both in their production and in their class. Though there are hopes in the future for the new production of the play “Almost, Maine” coming soon in early November. The options range from filming the show on stage to performing it on Zoom. The drama teacher Mrs. Tucker, and the drama department are trying to be super flexible and patient with what they are given.

It is much easier for the returning students in drama to stay connected and have a community feel since they have known each other in the past. However, it has been hard for the new students in the intro classes to build a community. 

“As a theatre class, I try to make it their home base or their safe space. I just do not know if that is coming through. As a teacher, I wish that it would, and I hope they feel that when they come to my Zoom, they can ask questions or feel like-minded people there,” Tucker said.

It has been more flexible for the drama department since rehearsing online. Students can play sports and set up rehearsal times with ease. However, it becomes more complicated when directing body movements and specific body language since it is not something you could see on Zoom. For online learning as a teacher, there have been technical issues.

“Prepping as a teacher for online is challenging. There are many things to juggle, and as soon as you know the plan, you sign into Zoom and Canvas, and then things are not uploading anymore. Links are broken, and PDFs are not being filled out,” Tucker noted. 

They are currently more focused on the theory of theatre and its history, so when the drama students return in person, more of the acting portion will happen. However, there are many little things in classes that we never expected to miss. 

“I think one of the things that I miss is how rowdy the classes would get right before class or right at the end of class. I would be like, ‘okay, quiet down.’ However, that is when I would see the students forming friendships,” Tucker explained. 

The cast of Chicago performs one of their main numbers. (Cathy Cunningham)

From online and hybrid learning to the community, the arts are trying to adapt. Learning to use alternatives for assignments and forming a community may be difficult and challenging. However, things are looking bright for the future of the arts.