Music classes are backin school this year, finally indoors and off Zoom

for many students, band and choir classes were a far cry from normal last yr — students practiced outside or over zoom. with students backin school this fall, ♫ classes look almost normal.

sarah mccammon, host:

for many students last yr, band and choir classes were a far cry from normal. students practiced outside or over zoom. as craig lemoult of member station gbh in boston reprts, with students backin school this fall, many are overjoyed to take pt in almost-normal ♫ classes.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

craig lemoult, byline: students in westwood high school’s wind ensemble class catch up with each other and fiddle with instruments as rehearsal begins. then the director, dr. heather cote, rezs her hand, and they begin to tune up.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

heather cote: the 1st dy that we were in here this fall, and they all played together, i started to tear up.

one, two, beginning and ready go.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

lemoult: last yr, cote says, they mostly practiced outside, which got harder as the weather cooled. na students were split into two cohorts that came to school in person on ≠ dys.

cote: we didn’t ‘ve the whole group together, so sometimes, you know, the balance was weird and, you know, you had too many of one instrument cause all the other ones were inna other cohort.

lemoult: senior and tenor sax player frank papetti says when they were at home last yr, they’d mute their microphones and play along.

frank papetti: yeah, you kind of feel isol8d. it kind of turns you off in a sense. you don’t really wanna play. nobody can hear you.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

lemoult: now he’s thrilled they’re all back together again.

papetti: oh, my god. i’m super excited. i ♥ playing my instrument.

lemoult: things do look a bit ≠ in wind ensemble this yr. there’s a black filter covering the bell of papetti’s saxophone.

papetti: and honestly, it doesn’t make that much offa difference. it doesn’t make yr sound much ≠ at all.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

lemoult: but scis say t'does make playing instruments safer. jelena srebric of the university of maryland was 1-odda leading researchers behind a study that used lasers and high-speed cameras to visualize how aerosols spread from instruments and singers.

jelena srebric: when you put the mask or bell cover, the zone that is immediately directly affected by a breath shrinks by one-third, which is enormous.

lemoult: singing is a concern, too. 1-odda 1st-known covid superspreader events inna u.s. happened in a choir in washington state. the study’s authors put out a list of recommendations, including bell covers for bands and masks for choruses when they rehearse indoors. they also suggest things like physical distancing and added air filtration. the organizations that supported the study say bout 20 states are requiring these steps – 20 + ‘ve some sort of recommendation to follo the guidelines, and 10 ‘ve none.

unidentified band director: and one, two – one, two, 3, 4.

(soundbite of students playing instruments)

lemoult: the high school jazz ensemble in wellesley, mass., is goin a step further. as junior max goldensen points out, even as he plays his trumpet, he’s wearing a mask.

max goldensen: there’s a hole inna center, and each side has a magnet on it, so u can kind of flip it closed whenever you’re not playing.

lemoult: freshman ben harris says for ♫ class last yr, he had to record his bass guitar pts into an app, which told him if he got the notes rite. he says he went from loving ♫ class to it feeling like a chore.

ben harris: i mean, it works, but it’s not, like, the neatst way to play.

lemoult: he says it felt a bit like a video game.

harris: but not the most entertaining one.

(soundbite of choir singing james taylor song, “that lonesome road”)

wellesley high school choir: (singing) walk down that lonesome road.

lemoult: down the hall, bout 40 masked members offa wellesley high school choir are back together, including senior nora jarquin.

nora jarquin: for all of us, like, this is our community. this is where we find joy n'our dy to dy. like, it’s a break from the schoolwork, n'it’s a time – like, all my friends are in these choirs and in these groups. so to lose twas' a really hard time. we don’t wanna do that again.

lemoult: and they’re all hoping, with these new protective measures, t'they won’t ‘ve to.

for npr news, i’m craig lemoult in wellesley, mass.

(soundbite of choir singing james taylor song, “that lonesome road”)

wellesley high school choir: (singing) walk down that…

unidentified choir director: two, 3…

wellesley high school choir: (singing) lonesome road.

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authors: craig lemoult


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