Virtual virtuosos: Student musicians adapt to online format


photo courtesy of Darya Dayanim

Freshman Darya Dayanim plays with her youth orchestra over Zoom.

Nini Panner, Reporter

After a long day of Zoom classes, students like freshmen Darya Dayanim and Alec Silberg find an escape in their instruments, transforming their surroundings into a world of measures, melodies and musical notes. Musicians everywhere have taken this time to learn to adapt through the screen and change the way they communicate socially and musically with one another. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has prevented any hands-on teaching, which has made it more difficult for teachers to guide students with their instruments and musical pieces. Local piano teacher Kate Wotring has been adjusting to the online format and learning the best ways to teach her students. 

“There are things that I’ve had to rely on more that I didn’t really have to rely on so much when I could see their hands,” Wotring said. “It becomes a different process of teaching.” 

The students struggle without the hands-on help of the teachers. Freshman Darya Dayanim is working with a youth orchestra over quarantine, but the group is having trouble finding time to meet and practice without the ability to meet in-person. 

However, Dayanim sees a benefit in her new online schedule. To help musicians fill up what now feels like endless free time, the orchestra has provided online music theory lessons. 

I’ve been taking [the online classes] and it definitely helps me to understand music better,” Dayanim said. “That’s something I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to take if I wasn’t in quarantine.”

Freshman and cello player Alec Silberg has loved the online format not only for the convenience of the experience but the time it gives him to disconnect. 

“I have more time to practice and it gives me more freedom in playing,” Silberg said. “It’s not as stressful with school and homework so I have more time and space to think about [the] cello.”

The free time in quarantine has given many students an opportunity to grow as musicians. They are able to focus on their skill, discipline, and for Dayanim, her self-accountability. Dayanim said, “I have to commit to something and just go with it and enjoy it.”

Individualized learning has encouraged many students to commit more time to their instruments, and, according to Wotring, brought, “some real leaps in focus and improvement.” For others, however, lessons have been a time to enjoy the art of music.

“With other students that have found it challenging because of just general mental health stuff going on around this and that they’ve found it harder to stay focused but they’ve stayed taking lessons,” Wotring said. “I feel like that’s been a lifeline or a mode of support for them even if they haven’t worked on improving their piano that much.”

Online lessons have provided an outlet for students: a time in their week to focus on the music without the regular chaos in the world right now.

“There isn’t as much life static going on so it’s been one of the things that has really carried [the students] through this time,” Wotring said. “It makes a difference for everyone involved.”