Frederick Community College’s flute ensemble and concert band are canceled for this semester. The music department has had to change its focus for the 2021 spring semester as FCC deals with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Music lessons evolved into a more style and theoretically-orientated format, due to singing and wind instruments being considered more dangerous as a means for spreading COVID-19.
“Studies have shown that the virus is airborne spread … any of the wind instruments are especially dangerous because of the concentrated airflow,” said Paula Chipman, music department director. “Students have suffered socially. We get together on Zoom for our classes, but it is not the same thing.”
The music department is limited to one in-person class per month with a maximum of nine students with one instructor.
“The career I am studying is mostly practical. We need to meet face to face more than once a month because the online format does not work for all my classes,” said Stefanny Ramirez, music production student. “I feel that we are not learning the same as before. It is not the same.”
However, directors and music professors continue to look for ways to offer students a complete and unique experience in the music department, such as holding rehearsals in parking lots, hosting virtual concerts, and even delivering keyboards to students in their homes.
“We asked students to do recordings on their own, and we were able to put together a virtual concert that worked pretty well this past fall,” Chipman said. “I think that hopefully, for next fall, we will be able to offer concerts with few people in the audience.”
Due to distance learning challenges, according to the admissions office at FCC, the music department enrollments have decreased in 2020 and early 2021.
Still, Ramirez recommends music student majors start their semester and take mostly theory requirement classes, at least during the spring and fall semester of 2021, such as American Popular Music, Voice, Music History and Fundamentals of Music.
“I enjoy my voice lessons. Professor Jacob Dalager makes the online lessons very interactive, I have learned very well both ways online and in-person,” Ramirez said. “I haven’t had any problems with my American Popular Music class either, because it is mostly theoretical.
Nonetheless, our professor finds ways to make the course more didactic by sending us playlists to interpret music and videos.”
Frederick’s Community College music department underwent drastic changes in 2020, and many students have been affected. That’s why Paula Chipman, along with the staff and students, will keep protecting what is most precious to them, which is music.
Music is an essential part of life, Chipman said. “The more you learn about arts, specifically music, the more enriching your life can be.”