Canterbury School’s music classes are on the rise! Our fifth and sixth-graders faced two major changes this year and have handled them with enthusiasm: the pandemic and a significant change to the arts curriculum. With campus reopening in August, it was a slow transition to getting all the students ready.
Besides having them determine what instrument they want to play and ordering the necessary supplies, the music teachers also had to ensure the classroom environment was safe. “We started a little later than we wanted to with playing our instruments, but we wanted to make sure that we had all of the safety precautions in place,” said Band Director Mr. Zachary Deeter. The classroom has transformed, with socially distanced chairs six feet apart now consuming most of the floor space. The room also houses four air purifiers. The most significant hurdle, however, was preparing the instruments.
Following the studies provided by the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Castillo and Mr. Deeter knew they needed “bell covers”, or coverings for the instruments’ openings that limit droplets and bacteria. The available products for this online were expensive and on backorder, so our band teachers opted instead to make their own. They took the time to cut out each student’s bell cover from a piece of blue polyester-nylon fabric and attach a regulated filter to its center. These bell covers can be attached to the instrument with a rubber band, and each child may only use their assigned one. They also had to find flute shields because of the instrument’s unique dimensions.
The other hurdle was how often music classes occurred. Historically, Middle School students could take two arts-related classes at a time, whether it was music, classical art, or theatre. However, this left many music students with gaps in their ability and only having music one semester a year. The new Arts curriculum changes, put in place by our Director of Arts, Mr. Antonio Castillo, have altered the music program and ensures each fifth and sixth-grade student has a full year of music with alternating art/theatre classes as their second arts course. “This new initiative in the Arts Department aims to help our young Middle School students find their path in the arts,’” Mr. Castillo explained. “By the time they get to high school or even eighth grade, we want them to have found their passion within the arts. We can only expand our program when our students are willing to reach out of their comfort zone and try something new.” We cannot wait to see how their confidence in their musical ability rises throughout the year.