From 7:45 AM to 2:45 PM, we all stare at our computers, passively listening to Zoom meetings and typing up essays. For many students, art and music classes are their break in the school day. A time for them to let loose, relax, and do something that they have a passion for. Recently, however, these types of classes haven’t been as engaging, and to be frank, music and art just aren’t as enjoyable anymore. Being in an art class myself, I can definitely relate. I miss having the experience of sitting with my peers, receiving feedback and drawing along with the teacher. Now I’m stuck to staring at YouTube, hoping it can teach me how to draw better. Jackie Meskill, a 9th grader in Art, states “I miss the studio, the supplies, the teacher, everything. Art class at home is not the same as art class at school.”
Music class definitely isn’t any better, and the interviewees show it’s as isolating as art class. Bella Salerno, a 9th grader in Band, says that “during band, we are playing with a metronome and a recording of the piece. Everyone has to play muted.” She also says it’s “difficult to focus since it is not a very engaging experience most of the time.” Ruth Fan, a 9th grader in Orchestra, says that she feels that “part of the music experience is playing as a whole and growing in our performance and technical abilities as a group, which is severely limited because we can’t meet in-person/meet through a screen.” Not being able to play together limits interaction, creativity, and is overall very self-isolating. Students aren’t getting the same feedback from their music teachers as they would when they could actually hear them.
Looking on the bright side, some teachers have still managed to try and engage students in a fun and creative way. For example, the music departments are taking videos of each student playing their part in the piece and with the help of technology, teachers are able to combine the recordings and videos. This can allow students to have the experience of ‘playing together’ without actually being in the same room. In fact, at the end of January, the band program is planning on having a concert. Although it will definitely be different, it’ll be better than playing into a muted Chromebook.
Art teachers have also been able to attempt projects in class. Some teachers are trying to use cameras angled above their desk, so they can draw along with their students. Other teachers are researching projects and competitions for their students to try out. In the Intro to Studio Art class that I’m currently taking, we just finished our self-portrait projects. To get and receive feedback we all post videos on FlipGrid, showing our work and describing it. After we record our own videos, we then comment on others’ work with helpful suggestions and positive feedback!
School is definitely not the same experience, but teachers and students are learning to further adapt to the situation. Hopefully, everything will be able to revert to normal, and students will be able to return to school releasing their inner creativity again.
Graphic: Bronwyn Spencer