Glasgow Music Teachers and Student share Thoughts on Return to In-Person Music


By: Brianne Nguyen and Jolie Nguyen

November 18, 2021

Glasgow’s music department bounced back into action at the beginning of the school year! Over virtual learning, students may have not been able to reach their full potential but now they’re back together. 

Music students, when asked whether learning music online was hard for them, 32% said yes, 32% said no, and 36% said both.  Angelika Tzioumis, an 8th grade violinist, said, “It was hard to be able to synchronize your playing with your classmates’ playing due to technical issues or something else.”

The GMS Orchestra Director, Mrs. Blaine stated that “A lot of students were discouraged from having to play their instruments at home. They didn’t like having to be the only one playing, they didn’t like having to play in a house where other people can hear them.”  She also mentioned that when you’re in an ensemble, your mistakes aren’t as “glaring” as it would be when you’re the only one playing, which was discouraging for some students. 

Virtual learning also had ripple effects even after they came back. When asked whether they felt behind the current curriculum, the majority said no, but there were still some that said yes, and others mentioned things like techniques and concepts they were struggling with.  “I have beginner and intermediate students back in the building, I had to figure out where those holes or  gaps were,” said Mrs. Blaine. 

She also mentioned that the number of students went down because of virtual school, “virtual orchestra could not really look or sound like it did normally and because it’s so much about being a part of something bigger than you, a lot of students were discouraged from having to play their instruments at home.” However, she also said that, “moving forward, we know that we are in person. That’s going to really help the numbers.”

But there was still a silver lining to learning music virtually. Students and teachers both mentioned things that they had liked and wanted to bring into in-person learning. The GMS Chorus Director, Ms. Hannel said that, “something that we did last year was called mini performances where students had the option to record themselves singing a song and share it to the class- a lot of students were really excited to continue that this year.” 

Many students had said that they were glad for more resources for music history and theory. Brooke Ehmann-Jones, an 8th grade alto saxophone player, said that, “not just focusing on playing concert music, but learning more in depth about music overall,” was something that she would like to see more of. Mrs. Blaine has also mentioned how she has a lot more resources for note reading, music theory, and music history that she can now incorporate into playing.  

There is still a pandemic, which is something that the directors have to keep in mind. Ms. Hannel said that while it’s, “exciting that everyone is back in person,“ it’s still important to, “be mindful of singing with masks on, we’ve had to be creative with how we explain or demonstrate more of those things without being able to see each other’s faces all the time.” In band, students have bell covers to put on their instruments, and put their masks on when they’re not playing. 

Ms. Hannel wanted to highlight how her students persevered through these challenges. “One of our chorus classes, our most advanced chorus class, actually performed in a concert at Justice High School on October 7th, and it was really incredible to me how much they accomplished in such a short time.”  Ms. Dizon, another orchestra teacher at Glasgow, hopes that students “Remember how they had to use other avenues to solve problems on their own during virtual learning and continue to apply that to be independent learners.”