At some time, summer had to end. As well as online school. Students grudgingly filed back into school for the taste of their first in-person class experience in over a year. Though many students dread the idea of going back to school, many are thrilled to start learning in-person. Even though most students find it easier to learn in person, online schooling did have its benefits. As a QuaranTunes piano teacher myself, doing school online saves much more time; there was no need to wait in the long traffic lines, navigate through crowds, and lug heavy backpacks from one place to another. Now that everyone is back in person at school, times get a little more complicated as extracurriculars and homework start to pile up, leaving limited time for teaching or learning music. However, all challenges can be overcome through perseverance and effective time management.
Emily Ngo is a returning student to in-person school and teaches piano at QuaranTunes. She shares that being a musician at school “can be a little stressful at times'' but enjoys it nevertheless. Many students also had opinions on how COVID affected their musical routines. To some, it was actually a blessing in disguise since being at home meant more time for practice and video recordings for competitions, lessening stress and nervousness since you’re not on stage. To others like Ngo, COVID deeply affected her because she was unable to attend recitals or any performances that would normally take place. Many other musicians faced the same problem where they’ve been practicing a certain piece over and over again, only to find that their competition to be cancelled and never rescheduled. Thankfully in recent months, in-person performances and competitions have resumed and we are able to perform and compete regularly. Since school is opening up, so are other opportunities in students’ musical life. Students are able to work more closely and focus better with their music teachers in person since many small details were missed when being taught online due to static or disruptive noises in the background. Additionally, students are able to see their peers everyday and help each other improve.
Despite the issue of communication, some schools managed to overcome it. According to musician and QuaranTunes teacher Laura Ni, her “choir group ended up doing Zoom recordings and...the band did social-distanced rehearsals in outdoor tents.” Though changes needed to be made, many students would prefer to make some small sacrifices in order to play the instrument they love. Another issue of communication is the ability to connect with others as well as to gain motivation. Ni comments that even though she has an extra two hours of commute everyday that could have been used for practice, but being in person helped her connect with others more easily as well as helping her become more motivated to practice.
Another big issue among the music community that comes up when school starts is time management. As a musician myself, I can vouch for this since being both in high school and an active piano player can be quite stressful. Being able to juggle heavy courses as well as preparing for tough pieces for exams or competitions is no easy feat. When it comes to time management, Ngo offers advice for struggling musicians. “When it comes to time management, I would recommend using breaks wisely and to be...productive with them,” Ngo comments. Likewise, Ni simply remarks that one should “practice effectively and efficiently.” It’s easy to get distracted by outside influences during practice but doing so would take up much more time when you could be using that wasted time for other meaningful work. Sometimes, sacrifices must be made. Students who are used to playing more than one hour a day might need to cut back in order to fit piano in with their busy schedule. Ni recommends playing around 35-45 minutes after school to save time for other work. After prioritizing other work such as school work, it’d be much easier to make up for the other twenty or so minutes that you didn’t play.
Though there have been both positives and negatives as musicians transition from a virtual setting to the real world, most of us can agree that we are able to learn and focus much better in-person through the guidance of our teachers and the support of our peers.
Riley, P. R. (2021, March 26). In-person rehearsals are finally back at high schools, and student musicians are thrilled [Photograph]. Long Beach Post News. https://lbpost.com/news/education/in-person-rehearsals-high-school-music-class