Remote learning is challenging for any subject, but it proved especially difficult to teach and play music collaboratively over Zoom last year. Demonstrating finger positions for notes became complicated by camera angles, sound quality paled in comparison to the in person aural experience, and the joy of playing live music together was lost entirely.
The deep desire to create a richer, more authentic, and JOYFUL music experience for Park students was what kept Music Department Head Sadie Mayes going this summer as she sat through 11 different webinars learning the minutiae of aerosolized droplets for choruses and instrument ensembles. One webinar based in the West Coast continued past 1 a.m. because of the time difference, but Sadie hung in there, exhausted and bleary-eyed, as music teachers across the country discussed plume measurements, computational fluid dynamics, and air exchanges per hour.
Using the most recent guidelines from the International Coalition Performing Arts Aerosol Study, Sadie came up with a comprehensive plan to safely hold ensemble and chorus practices in person this year. When she presented it to Kimberly Boyd, the Assistant Head of School for Finance and Operations, Sadie had a green light to get whatever was needed to minimize risk.
Here’s what went on the shopping list:
- Special choral masks that keep the mask away from the face for easier singing
- Instrument masks that allow players to slide the mouthpiece of their instrument through a gap in the fabric
- Bell covers for the end of each instrument
- Single use pads for the floor
In addition to these purchases, the gym will be configured so that players are spaced three or more feet apart from one another and practice time will be limited, based on the number of air exchanges per hour.
An incredible amount of research and investment has been put into minimizing risk for students at Park while giving back the joys of in person music. Dare I suggest, everyone… stay tuned?
Thank you to Sadie Mayes and the rest of the Music Department Staff for their efforts and to Kimberly Boyd for ensuring they had the ability to purchase necessary PPE for our students.