Performing Through A Screen: How the Performing Arts are Still Thriving

Performing+Through+A+Screen%3A+How+the+Performing+Arts+are+Still+Thriving

Hayes Hunter, Falcon Post Staff

       Any other year, the sound of instruments and vocal warmups could be heard from the hallway behind the auditorium of Jordan High School. This year however, the hallway is silent. Instead, Zoom calls are replacing classrooms and bedrooms have become concert halls. Jordan teachers and students are finding that they must adapt to this new world of the arts.

       Normally, Corrine Huber, the chorus teacher at Jordan, would be prepping her students for concerts and teaching the Star Spangled Banner in her classroom. While she is still doing these things, the process is looking a little different. This year will be Huber’s second year teaching at Jordan, and she has had some challenges with the virtual school year. Huber’s teaching methods aren’t exactly set up to work through a monitor. “I like my classes to move at a very fast pace. It’s been difficult transitioning online because I feel like the interface doesn’t allow for that really rapid movement of assignments and activities,” Huber explains. While teaching virtually has its challenges, Huber has found ways to keep her students engaged. She explains that her students are preparing for a virtual choir event and that they are being able to explore different types of technology in the arts. Even though being virtual has complicated things, Huber still believes that the arts are as relevant as ever. She explains that “It’s up to us to kind of reinvent the wheel and try to do something that’s going to make everyone feel better.” 

       Chorus isn’t the only arts program that is being challenged by this school year. Patrick Blackburn, the band director at Jordan, also explained his opinions on the situation. Blackburn states, “It’s miserable. It’s absolutely miserable because my whole job is dependent on playing music together. I’m having to redo everything I’ve ever known how to do. And the honest truth is, the technology side is kind of getting in the way.” Blackburn explains that as he gets further into the school year, he is better handling the virtual side of things. While talking about the content that he is able to give his students, Blackburn lists assignments on musical scores in movies, composition, and other academic parts of music. He also hinted at a possible upcoming virtual arts festival.  Even with all of the challenges presenting themselves, Blackburn still firmly believes in the importance of the arts. He states, “The arts have to survive because it is what keeps us human. It gives us that glimmer of hope and something to hold on to.” While this year will definitely be a challenge, Jordan can expect a great year from the band department.

       While teachers are having to adjust to this new learning environment, students are also navigating the school year. Efrain Alvarado, an 11th grade theatre student, explains his experiences so far with virtual learning. While he loves being in the musical theatre class, he has noticed some challenges along the way. “I don’t think it’s working as well as it could be because the whole part of you know theater is to start to build a small community in that class, and being online makes that extremely difficult.” Students are experiencing school from a different perspective as teachers, but seem to be understanding of teacher’s challenges. While talking about the teacher’s ways of handling the situation, Efrain explains, “I think that they’re doing their best, they’re doing their best with what they have and honestly, I feel like by the time we go back to school, we’ll be ready to easily whip out a performance.” Like other patrons in the arts, Efrain believes that his classes have an impact no matter what context they are in. He states, “When kids go in the class, that’s where they feel wanted, and you know, they feel welcome there. And that’s just a great feeling, and that’s what theater is for.”

       Another student, Kailynn Bollinger, a 10th grader in band, has similar views on the arts. She explains that, “Being online kind of all makes us wonder, what are you doing to your instrument to make it sound like this? It’s kind of hard to all play together without in time video or audio.” Like Efrain, Kailynn agrees that teachers are doing the best that they can with the resources that are available. Similar to other arts students, Kailynn sees her program as something more than a class. She states, “My thing is that band is a family, even if we’re not playing together.” To Kailynn, the performing arts are important to continue because “It’s 100% an escape. It’s something to get your mind off of. Yes it’s work, but it doesn’t feel like work and you’re sitting there and you’re like ‘Oh my god it’s band,’ or ‘Oh my god. It’s musical theatre’ And you’re like, ‘Yep this is my life.'” 

       Students and teachers are still finding ways to show their passion for the arts virtually. Although there may not be crowded ticket booths or late night rehearsals, the performing arts at Jordan High School are determined to make an impact, one song at a time.