The SHS music department focuses on virtual concerts

Each music program committed to bringing their group together through music videos


Emma Flanagan

Parents can get involved in the music department through Stroudsburg Area Music Supporters (SAMS).

Many students involved in the SHS music program grew up watching SHS concerts, waiting for the day when they would be able to perform on stage. Unfortunately, Covid-19 has forced the SASD to cancel the annual winter concerts.  This is especially difficult for seniors who will not have this season to perform.

Music is known for bringing people together to sing, play instruments, or enjoy concerts. So what happens when a global pandemic hits and these experiences are not possible? The SHS Music Department has taken on virtual concert videos.

Back in May, Stroudsburg’s first virtual concert video was put together. A group of approximately 20 members of the SHS choir performed the song It’s Time to Go, as a tribute to the Class of 2020.

At the end of last year, there was hope that everything would be back to normal by the time the winter concert season rolled around. However, that hope diminished on the first day of school. The students of the music department were told that they could not sing or play any wind instruments inside.

In the warmer months, band and choir rehearsed outside in the courtyard of the high school. Those in the band who were at home did their best to follow along with the program Smart Music, which allows students to read and listen to the music they are playing. However, being outside came with internet connection issues, the wind blowing music around, and standing while playing.

Things were slightly different for the orchestra. Although they were able to stay inside, the rehearsal process was similar. The students at home logged onto their Zoom with their mics off and played along with Smart Music.

In order to hear the entirety of their groups altogether, the chorale, band, and orchestra directors put together virtual concerts.

“In terms of being a band director, the hardest thing for me is not being able to hear everybody, and really that’s one of the things that is becoming more and more satisfying as I continue to put this virtual thing together,” said Band Director Mr. Skip Cassady. “It’s really really kind of cool to hear everybody playing together and not having to stand and hope there isn’t a gust of wind that blows your music halfway across the courtyard.”

Each group chose a different path in making their virtual concert. The directors used a variety of programs, including GarageBand, Final Cut Pro, and VideoPad.

“The most important part of why we play is to play together, so I think that part you’re being robbed of,” Orchestra Director Ms. Lisa Rogers. “If the closest we can get is doing this, then that has to be something that we try to do.”

The choir and its extracurricular activities, show choir, and chorale took on a new director for the first half of the year: Mr. Brendan Michels.

The chorale, being the most selective singing ensemble at the high school, was Michels’ first attempt at a virtual choir. He created a sound file of the chorale singing and arrangement of “Russian Dance” from The Nutcracker.

Students are grateful for the teachers putting in as much effort as they can to make this year easier, but many find it hard to find motivation during this tough season.

“We miss all of the interactions we used to have when we practiced and we don’t get to hear everyone play as a group,” said Nicole Bellesfield ‘21. “As a senior, it’s somewhat upsetting just because we know that we don’t get to have our last in-person concerts for the winter season.”

When these groups watch the videos, it will be the first time all year that they will hear themselves play as a complete ensemble. Although sad about the music that was lost this year, students know teachers will provide as many opportunities as they can to perform and make music together.

“Do what you enjoy,” said Michels. “Take every opportunity that you can to showcase your creativity. Everyone can create and everyone can enjoy creating.”

May Virtual Choir

“Russian Dance” SHS Chorale