During these days of non-traditional schooling and home isolation, many elective classes find their programs at a relative standstill. Students in music classes like string orchestra, band, and choir can no longer practice together, and many music students know the struggles of completing assignments and practicing at home.
In addition, these times of uncertainty present other unique struggles for music teachers: what if students end up not returning to school, and what if the end-of-the-year concerts must be canceled? Mr. Case, the strings teacher at Bowling Green Junior High School (B.G.J.H.S.) has presented the interesting alternative of a virtual orchestra video to send out instead. Virtual orchestras are a way for members of the three middle school string ensembles at B.G.J.H.S. to ‘play together’ from the comfort of their own homes and without risking anyone’s health.
Virtual orchestra videos are rather recent, emerging with the past decade’s increase in accessible musical software and sound-mixing capabilities. For the video to work, each musician must record himself or herself playing his or her part in a song. Normally, a guide track is given to them beforehand so that the tempo (speed) aligns throughout the different instrument sections. Students are instructed to record their video with the guiding track playing off a separate device through headphones or earbuds. After they produce a video of good quality, they submit it to their teacher, who uses a software platform to align everyone’s soundtrack and make the accumulation of videos sound like one orchestra.
The same can be done for choral music as well. Mr. Shanklin, the choir teacher at B.G.J.H.S., has decided to attempt a similar video. Choir tends to be composed of more students, so Mr. Shanklin decided to create a video of his a cappella group, the Pitch Purples, instead. He has roughly one hundred students in sixth grade, seventh grade, and eighth grade, but the a cappella group is more competitive and features just over twenty mixed voices from all three grades. The Pitch Purples hope to send out their video of “Attention,” by Charlie Puth in the near future. The a cappella group requires no instruments in the background, only the students’ singing voices, whereas a choir might need piano accompaniment or other instrumentation.
When these two videos are completed and ready to post, you can find the links on the Arts & Entertainment page of https://thepurplespirit.us.