Academy Music Returns to Campus

Students and faculty and excited to be making music in person together once again. This week, Academy students returned to their music spaces to safely rehearse together. “Coming together and having that sense of community again, even though it’s in small groups, is just really beautiful,” said Mike Lippert, Academy Music Department head and director of Academy Choirs.

To safely practice together, students are rotating between in-person rehearsals of groups of 10 or fewer, and online assignments, with most students meeting in-person about once per cycle. Students learning from home are joining the in-person rehearsals virtually and recording themselves singing or playing along at home.

Percussionists and other instrument players are rehearsing indoors while socially distanced, and choirs and wind instrumentalists are singing and playing outside for extra safety from the potential aerosolized particles associated with that type of music-making. “We singers and wind instrumentalists must move air when we sing or play, so to be particularly safe about it, we’re making sure that happens outside where the air is continually refreshed and we have 10 feet of distance between us to further isolate,” Lippert said. 

Wind players also use modified masks while playing so they can access their instruments. In some cases, the instrument itself also wears a mask or cover that filters the air coming out. Many of these masks were created by parent volunteers to help keep students safe.

“These are all methods that are tested and approved by several music and high school-related governing bodies to make sure that we’re following safe practices,” Lippert said. “We’re now able to run a rehearsal, play together or do the kinds of things that would be considered normal in the music classroom in the Academy.”

Up to this point, even while on campus, Academy music students met online to learn about music concepts and listen to music together. “In most cases, we were talking about music rather than actually doing it,” Lippert said. Now reunited in-person, some students have said that singing together is the “best thing they’d done in a long time.” 

Academy music teachers enjoy seeing students in person they haven’t seen since March, some of which are seniors they have been working with since they were in fifth grade. “The K – 12 Music Department and Music School continue to innovate to make sure our students’ musical lives are rich and fulfilled and done that in ways that are responsible and safe given our current conditions,” said Lippert. 

“We’re enthusiastic and excited about this opportunity and appreciate of all the work that went towards making it possible. It’s nice to make music together again and have our community back,” he said.

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