Arts and Humanities Classes Struggle to Transition to Online/Distance Learning


Katheron Latham

ARTS AND HUMANITIES CLASSES HELD ONLINE — The Central Voices hold a virtual Zoom meeting.

Sarah Katheron Latham, Staff Writer

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, classes have been required to go online. This has been made possible by technologies like Google Classroom, Canvas, and Zoom. These programs have allowed for online assignments to be given and work to be turned in virtually, which is useful in most classes. Students in arts classes such as choir, band, and visual art have struggled throughout this process.

Choir and band are classes based on performance. Despite the technology available to them, it is not possible to hold choir or band rehearsals on platforms like Zoom as a result of the audio delay. Choir Director Katheron Latham and Band Director Joseph Archer are finding ways to give students assignments that will accompany the music they were practicing at school.  They are asking their students to record themselves practicing, and submit recordings through Google Classroom, Canvas, or e-mail.  Latham has made vocal warm-ups, and Archer has asked students to send recordings of their practice time.

“Band is something that is done in person. These online meetings are very inefficient…I  really miss the people in [band]; the band is one large family that needs to stay together to work best,” expressed Erickson Frias-Cruz, a freshman in the Central’s concert and jazz band.

In addition to missing rehearsals, these performing classes are having to postpone or cancel several events.  The band has had to cancel two events: the All State Honor Band, sponsored by Tennessee Music Educators Association (TMEA), for which one freshman qualified, and the Concert Performance Assessment or “Festival,” sponsored by the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association (ETSBOA).

Choir has also postponed their Dollywood trip, originally scheduled for March 28, to May 2, as long as nothing else changes.

Both the choir and jazz band were not able to perform for the Brown Middle School eighth graders during their tour of Central’s campus, which was scheduled for March 19.  The choir and band both hope to continue practicing their music, as well as any remaining scheduled performances, when school returns this year.

“It’s my hope that the students retain what we rehearsed and learned prior to the break, and we will be able to pick up pretty close to where we left off,” explained Archer.

“We are hoping we will still be prepared for our May 5 concert. We may have to shorten the concert or bring back a few pieces we did in the fall, but I am confident we can still perform,” stated Latham.

Despite the fact that both performing arts and visual arts have been difficult to complete online, there have been a few positive aspects. Band and choir directors now have more chances to hear and work with students more individually.  Art classes have been able to express more creativity by working with what they have.

“Instructional time has now transitioned to a more private and personal space in which each student has time to think and create art without distractions. There is not a better time than now for a student to discover their own individual voice and preferences in art without all the distractions that can come while attending school,”stated Melissa Hoesman, Central’s art teacher.

Art classes have been continuing their learning experience by working on two dimensional surfaces and taking pictures, sending them to Hoesman.  Hoesman explained that she may miss detail in students’ art, so she has assigned writing assignments so students can better elaborate on their ideas.

“Art is different because you can’t do art on a Google Doc and submit it as you would for other classes. I’m afraid of missing out on the actual lessons she would teach. It’s kind of hard to draw without particular instructions sometimes. It’s been especially hard because she isn’t there for you to ask if you’re on the right track; you just kind of have to give it your best shot in your drawing, and wait to ask her in a zoom meeting,” explained Carmen Crabtree, a junior art student at Central.

Central’s arts programs will continue to work online through online recordings and pictures, even though it does not have the same effect as singing together.

“We aren’t able to make music together and hear each other’s voices… I hate missing being able to have all the voices combine and have great sound and being able to hear it,” concluded Macey Ledford, a junior in the Central Voices.