Musicians at Home
How Long Reach Music works, at a distance
March 26, 2021
With the onset of the pandemic shutting down schools now for almost a year, there is little doubt that many of the previous in-person school activities are being missed. No school activity, though, has been transformed as dramatically as the music program.
While almost all classes lost something when quarantine started, whether it be access to materials or computers, music groups lost the crucial ability to rehearse in person. Everyday, Long Reach musicians met first thing in the morning to practice violins, trumpets, cellos, and french horns in rehearsal rooms and studios. Now, left in the online scene is a shell of what music class used to be, with live, online rehearsals being impossible due to the many complications that come alongside Google meets and technical challenges in recording and syncing sound.
So what does Long Reach music look like now? Speaking to Senior Susan Kim, the concertmistress of the G/T Orchestra and co-president of Tri-M honor society, Kim details music during Covid. With the help of their conductor and teacher, Mr. Fyhr, the class is able maintain the mood of real-time rehearsal without the hindrance of internet lag or unbalanced audio.
When asked about the day to day class experience, Kim emphasizes, “Our orchestra teacher Mr. Fyhr is doing a really good job of preparing us and motivating us to practice … how it works is that once we get into class he sets up a tuner and he has autotune of all the songs we play, and he expects us to play along with the autotune.”
Furthermore, the class still strives for precise and well adjusted play, tweaking and working on technique throughout the class.
“[Mr. Fyhr] stops us so we can go over the technical things like fingering and posture and things like that,” Kim elaborates. “We’re working on scales, arpeggios, and shifts.”
One aspect of music that still remains absent is in-person performances. Without the ability to share the efforts of rehearsals in the live atmosphere of the auditorium, the Long Reach Orchestra turned to an online alternative.
Kim explains: “Every couple of weeks he gives out playing tests as an assignment and what he does is put the recordings together to create a virtual concert.” While somewhat distant from the vibrant performances that the community has been accustomed to in the past, it is still an exhibition of Long Reach’s musicians.
As for the music honor society, Tri-M, Kim has been trying to organize small snippets of student musicians practicing and performing at home and to share them on social media.
“In terms of in person performances, obviously because of the pandemic, a lot of these concerts are canceled,” Kim admits, “so, for Tri-M we are trying to take advantage of the online setting.”
Each of the posts showed 4-5 pictures of students involving music, and they would submit a short biography about their music about why they play and what music will mean to them in the future.
“Our original plan was so that any member would play/practice a piece they are working on and it would show them practicing any techniques … [these posts] show that LRHS musicians are not ‘still’ during the pandemic, but we are still active in practicing and performing our music.” “I think this can show how vibrant our music in the community can be,” Kim later added.
As for Kim, she remains active in music outside of Long Reach. Kim talked about a performance she did, in person, outside of school: “In December, a friend set up something called Music for Hope, and we performed at senior centers in Howard County … it was completely outside of school.”
For the time being, conductors and student musicians are working at maintaining their passion for performing in various outlets. If you would like to keep up with Long Reach music, please follow the Tri-M Instagram page @lrhstrim!