In-Person Meeting and After-School Rehearsals Resume for Music Classes


Sarah Katheron Latham

COVID PANDEMIC CAUSES A DROP IN MATH COMPREHENSION — Peggy Moyer is teaching her students via zoom meeting by also using her Elmo to project as she writes the needed notes

Sarah Katheron Latham, Assistant Editor

As of February 1, schools in Hamilton County are operating in Phase Two, which means that some students are able to attend school in-person (based on last name: A-L students Monday and Tuesday, all virtual Wednesday, M-Z students Thursday and Friday). Also, the phase tracker projects that students will be able to go back to school five days a week in Phase Three as soon as February 15.  These changes mean many things for the performing arts at Central High School: guitar and piano students now have face-to-face interaction and assistance from their teachers, and band and choir students are allowed to gather as whole ensembles after school to prepare for performances.

At the beginning of the semester, music teachers came up with creative ways to teach their classes.  Choir and band students sang and played independently at their homes with SmartMusic and Voices in Concert virtual curriculums.  Piano students were able to learn music theory and go through note naming exercises if they did not have a piano at home, while those who had a piano began practicing. Guitar students picked up guitars from the school similar to a textbook. Meeting in-person is the best option for music classes, so they are truly anticipating a time when everyone is able to be together at the same time.

“There is a huge difference when students are at home.  I’m not there to help at home. I just have to trust that you are getting it… you miss the jam sessions,” Phillip Johnson explained, Central’s guitar teacher.

Students also benefit from the interaction with their teachers when learning to play an instrument.  Chris Cannon, although one of the few in-person students with Johnson, is already enjoying the new learning environment.

“Because I can go off of him and see what I can do better,” Cannon responded.

Piano students are now able to practice at school whether or not they have a piano at home.

“Phase Two has brought [the] piano class great advantages…in the ability to utilize the piano lab and to play on such wonderful pianos. Being in-person really helps the piano class because it gives us one-on-one time with Mrs. Latham,” Alex White voiced, a piano and band student.

Overall, in-person learning allows for a deeper connection between teachers and their students.

“I am happy to finally be in Phase Two because I have actually been able to meet some of my students in person.  It is so much easier to communicate and to get to know students in person, rather than through Zoom only,” Katheron Latham declared, Central’s piano teacher and choir director.

Both band and choir are resuming after-school rehearsals in order to practice together as whole ensembles.  They are preparing to perform a winter concert ever since two previous concerts were cancelled due to COVID-19. The choir will be practicing on Tuesdays from 2:30-4:00, and the band will be practicing on Thursdays 3:30-5:00.  The concert is to be held in the gymnasium on March 9.

“Phase Two in band allows us to have after school practice, but we can’t practice after school in the band room because the band room is way too small. Instead…we have to travel and lug everything to either the cafeteria, the armory, or the agora…the cafeteria and the armory don’t have good enough acoustics for the band, but the agora has perfect acoustics; it’s just too cold,” White explained.

Music class serves students in different ways than academic classes.  It is a time for students to express themselves and relieve stress.

“I want to be able to provide opportunities for the students to use a different part of their brain than what’s used outside of the band room. For many of these students, band is a place where they can come to decompress from their day.  For ninety minutes they don’t have to worry about reports or tests or jobs and can just make music to cope with what’s going on in their lives,” Joseph Archer voiced, Central’s band director voiced.

Learning in-person and being together is very important to performing arts.  Those who are learning an instrument for the first time need interaction with their teacher, and they need the benefit of one-on-one instruction, tailored to their learning speed.  Students who are performing together need to be around one another to truly learn their music as an ensemble and not just individuals.

“Although we did sing on Zoom during Phase One, we could not hear each other, which made it difficult to really feel like a choir. Phase Two allows us to work in small groups and hear students singing together.  This is especially important when working on harmony.  We are looking forward to Phases Three and Four when more students can sing together in choir, so we can get the full effect of our voices together,” Latham expressed.

Central’s performing arts continue to look forward to the opportunities they will have in the future to make music and perform together.