Fossil’s music programs persevere

Fossils band program hopes to return to in-person rehearsals as soon as possible.

L. Flake

Fossil’s band program hopes to return to in-person rehearsals as soon as possible.

Caroline Sears, News Director

Every student at Fossil Ridge High School has been impacted by the coronavirus in some way, but few within the school have been more devastated than the music students. From Orchestra to Choir and Band, each program has struggled to adapt to a virtual format while keeping musicians motivated.

Led by Louie Silvestri, the orchestra program has taken advantage of Google Meets by splitting the class into two 45 minute sections. The first is a virtual livestream of rehearsal when in hybrid or a music theory lesson while all are remote, while the second is individual practice.

Students submit what they practiced that day, whether it be excerpts or scales for example, and Silvestri grades the videos. 

This plan may change as new updates about the possibility of a Hybrid 2.5 plan, which could allow arts classes to meet in-person weekly, arise. But for now, Silvestri has been doing his best to keep up with all of the uncertainty. 

As an instructor, he has learned what many other teachers have had to this semester, that plans can change in an instant. “I don’t know how much effort to put into a particular path,” stated Silvestri.

“…I’m giving myself permission to be okay if something doesn’t go 100% the way I want it to,” he said.

During the first quarter of school, Silvestri exclusively taught music theory. He had plenty of experience teaching the subject online, as this summer he taught music theory to future music instructors for over sixty hours.

Silvestri is also thankful for the advantage the orchestra has, because, unlike band and choir, they are able to wear masks easily. Since they are not projecting the virus through their mouths, they only need to be six feet apart, while choir students need to be about fifteen feet apart.

“I think really the ticket, any performing arts class being successful is how motivated the students are to recreate and capture what it was that initially drew them to music or orchestra.

— Louie Silvestri

Since quarter three will be only music theory classes again, the possibility of a concert is reserved for fourth quarter. Still, Silvestri stated that, overall, students have stayed committed to the program. 

“What’s made the difference is the kids in the class who have said we refuse to allow this thing that’s not ideal, to get in the way of our love of making music.” 

Silvestri preferred the hybrid model and hopes to return to it as soon as possible. “Making music with other people, as an orchestra, or band, or choir was designed to be… you can’t you can’t do it without doing it in person.”

At the end of the day, “I think we’ll be fine,” stated Silvestri.

In Fossil’s choirs, students formed groups of four, also known as quartets, and chose music to rehearse every day virtually. The Fossil acapella group, Tenth Bass, is active on TikTok and continues to rehearse as well.

Choir’s directors, Briana McCormick and John Garner, continue with their purpose in mind. 

McCormick stated, “I want to give as many FRHS students as possible a multitude of opportunities to express themselves through music, regardless of our phase or circumstance.” 

Over 200 choir students have been working to put together virtual performances that you can enjoy quarterly. The links are posted on the Fossil newsletter. 

As for Fossil’s award-winning band program, the new director, Neil Titus, is approaching these challenges with positivity. Taking on our band this summer, Titus plans of leading the band by promoting a positive culture and focusing on relationships.

In a perfect world, we’re back on the field this summer. Even if it’s like small groups of socially distant spring training, we can make it work.

— Neil Titus

“I’m looking post-pandemic like, you know, putting the tools in place for right now so that we can be really successful,” said Titus.

However, he understands the toll this format has taken on musicians. “You know at the end of the day, this is no substitution.”

Many key decisions are uncertain at this point, but Titus hopes for a return to hybrid as soon as possible. 

As winter guard and the percussion line begin to ramp up rehearsals, the band as a whole is “just trying to focus on relationships… so that when things are normal we can get back to what, you know, what we know and love.”

Thanks to the incredible instructors leading these programs through this period of uncertainty, there is no doubt that Fossil’s music programs will end this year stronger than ever before.