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Music Education Continues Despite the Pandemic

A fifth grader, Jack Hoffert is one of several Advanced Band students (all from 4th & 5th grade), who twice a week receive 20 to 30 minute long videos from band/music teacher Lisa Singleterry. 

Student practicing the snare drum

Singleterry makes the videos throughout the week for Advanced Band and Beginning Band students, in addition to music curriculum for five other music classes.  In a recent week, she calculates she made 36 videos to share with her classes!

Music classes are divided by grade level:  kindergarteners and first graders focus on singing, second graders learn musical notes, third graders learn to recognize different instruments, 4th graders learn to play the recorder and fifth graders study music from different world cultures. 

When teacher Singleterry records her videos, she visualizes the students as being right there in her classroom. Since school started this fall, she has not met with her band students face to face --she only “sees” them on Google Meet.  Band students receive two video lessons a week, practice their pieces at home, and then spend individual time with her on Fridays.  And precious is that time!  Beginning Band class has 17 students who’ve never before played their individual instrument - and these new students play a wide array of instruments:  flute, clarinet, saxophone, trumpet, euphonium, bass guitar, and snare drum.  Watch this video clip as she moves from student to student, guiding each on their instrument, just as if they were all together in a physical classroom!

PCS is delighted that in addition to academic instruction, the school is able to offer specialty classes for our elementary students, such as music and art -- and soon, physical education and Spanish.  Parent Dunn-Hoffert notes, “When we found out the boys were going to have to do distance learning, Jack only had two concerns: advanced band and peer ministry. He loved being in the band last year and took it seriously.” 

Even though Advanced Band is conducted virtually now, Jack enjoys the fact that the pieces are more challenging than they were in the Beginning Band class.  What does he think of digital learning overall?  It’s “okay” but -- “I would rather be at school!”

Both the Elementary and Jr/Sr High School music teachers have had to adapt, flex, and pivot their teaching methods.  Bree Roberts, a PCS parent, acknowledges “these classes take more creativity to switch to an online format . . . being able to continue with electives this year is really important as the kids need to be able to engage and be inspired in parts of learning other than their academic courses.”

The Jr/Sr High School music teacher, Joseph Ostrand, meets his students virtually on a regular basis using Google Meets.  Depending on the daily schedule, he sees his students either two or three times a week, as they are divided by grade cohorts:  6th grade music; 7th & 8th grade band;  9th & 10th grade choir and band; and 11th & 12th grade music theory. Watch this video for a little glimpse of how 7th grade music class (aka junior high band) and 11th music theory class happens with distance learning!  One of the teaching tools Ostrand uses is the Smart Music software that enables him to assign band and choir pieces that students can practice, record, and turn in. 

Teachers and students miss the community atmosphere during this period of distance learning. They miss meeting and making music together, but they do enjoy the virtual daily interactions, complete with corny jokes!  

Freshman Evan Roberts shares that she’s “really glad that it worked out” that band was offered even during distance learning.  She adds, “My favorite part of band class is being able to play our instruments even though we aren’t together.”

Student with her instrument

Both Ostrand and Singleterry have similar goals for their students – that music class be enjoyable, fun, and relaxing.  Roberts’ mother echoes their sentiments that for her daughter, “band has definitely been a bright spot in her weekly schedule, a creative outlet.”


Written by Grace Dugger & Linda Swenson