Music departments finding new ways to perform after Pennsylvania Music Educators Association suspends in-person events

Carlisle/West Shore

LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP, Pa. (WHTM) — The Pennsylvania Music Educators Association has suspended all in-person events this year. It’s a big disappointment for local band, orchestra, and chorus students.

It’s not just athletes being affected by having no fans at games, one big activity is marching band. And students will either be playing to an empty stadium or hopefully finding a virtual way to share their performances.

At Cedar Cliff High School, band camp is still on this week.

“Just being able to make music, even during this time without an audience has been awesome for them,” said George Clements, music director for West Shore School District.

Students are being kept socially distant and standing in one spot.

“We are exploring some virtual ways that we can tell our show story since we’ll be missing out on that visual element of moving around,” Clements said.

It’s not just marching band. Many musicians are involved in festivals, now suspended by the PMEA.

“We felt that at this point it would be reckless of us to try and hold events where you’re gathering numerous students from districts all across the state and put them in one spot, said Phil Stattel, president of the PMEA.

As opposed to the spring, there’s been time for more preparation. A virtual all-state festival will be held this year.

“We’re doing as much as we can to make sure that music is still available to all students throughout the state,” Stattel said.

“As the school year progresses and we look at ways to play music inside, there’s some studies that have been done on what kind of coverings on instruments to mitigate the spread of those aresols,” Clements said.

No matter how the music is made, these educators say they’ll make it work.

While the West Shore School District will start the year with distance learning, members of the band are still finding ways to meet in person to practice and perform.

“We really enjoy just performing on the parking lot and getting good at the show throughout the season and a lot of times that’s enough motivation to make it satisfy,” Clements said.

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