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STATEWIDE — The cool metal of an instrument pressed to your lips, a mallet resting over the calluses on your hands, sharing a music stand with barely enough elbow room for yourself. The low tone of the tuba rumbles under your feet, as your ears fill with the shrill sound of flutes, and when you look out past the stage lights you see a crowd of people behind the conductor.

That’s how concerts for music students used to look.

“We’ll go to a show where we won’t see anybody in the building. Nobody will be in the building at the same time as us, and we’ll never see anybody else,” said Thomas Davenport, a private percussion lesson instructor, and battery captain head at Whiteland High School. “We’ll go, we’ll perform alone in the gym with the judges and our fans, and then we’ll leave.”

He said for the high school kids it takes out a lot of the camaraderie. of the band, even during the marching band season he said it felt like a transition season. There aren’t a lot of performances or contests, they sent in a tape submission to ISSMA for marching band and that was it.

“The arts everywhere are suffering right now because of the pandemic, and when the pandemic is over they will come back with a vengeance.”

At the college level, the picture isn’t much different. Frank Felice, associate professor of music at Bulter University says there the choirs are rehearsing outside in a big circle. The big ensembles that have to play indoors have to be 10 feet apart, and the wind and brass performers have to have additional masks they place their mouthpiece through.

What was once a two-hour rehearsal has to be broken in 30-minute sections to let the air recycle. The concerts have turned into live streams.

“There’s no energy from an audience, there’s no extra edge for that,” he said. “So, it’s almost as if you’re doing this again in a rehearsal.”

Felice said that he thinks the audiences are also tired of watching the arts through a screen, and not experiencing the sounds for themselves. He said as part of his planning for the JCA Composers Orchestra means thinking out four 15 minute slots for a Thursday concert.

“If I put this really theatrical crazy piece, where people are throwing food, as part of the piece of music, and that goes next to really sweet aria from Donizetti on one side, and then it goes next to somebody playing ‘All Of Me’ in a jazz combo…I’m sure the parents at home were like ‘Who the hell are the JCA Composers Orchestra and why are they throwing toast across the room.”

He said even though things are a bit strange when it comes to communal music-making, but he thinks they can still do what they do well even during the pandemic.

Also, while the pandemic has music professors, music instructors, and music teachers alike rethinking how they do things it isn’t all bad. Ian Callen is a composer, music producer, and teaches percussion at Cathedral High School. He and three other colleagues created an online program through Butler that teaches students the basics of music production and sound design.

He said it wasn’t necessarily because of the pandemic that they chose to do it this way, but it works really well and has its advantages.

The purpose of the class is so students can explore the world of digital music, and giving students the tools to write and produce anything from film scores to the next big hit.

“It’s a sort of community where they can collaborate, and be excited to share what they’re up to,” said Callen. “They can send each other works in progress, and get feedback.”

Each student gets six private lessons with one of the four teachers.

“Those private lessons are really where we dig into what they want to do as individuals.”

Then at the end of the class, all the students pick a track they produced, come together, and create a mixtape.

“You need to stay connected with other musicians,” he said. “It’s harder now, but we still have to make music with other people, and that is why I…we all chose to become professional musicians.”