Hybrid Harmonies

How Stevenson’s band, choir and orchestra classes have adapted to the current Hybrid Model


As the bell signaling the start of seventh period rings, Lora Lewis ’22 rushes into the choir room and sets her backpack down at her seat. After wiping down her spot and making sure her mask is secure on her face, Lewis logs onto Zoom to join the students that stayed at home for the day. The choir teacher instructs them to begin their vocal warm ups, and Lewis cheerfully sings along with her classmates.

While this is not what a typical year of choir class would look like, Lewis enjoys this opportunity to connect with some of her fellow choir members and teachers. Many choir, band and orchestra students have been coming back to school to practice in person through the Patriot Hybrid Learning Model.

“My favorite part about in-person choir is being able to see the teachers in person,” Lewis said. “Since I have been taking choir with these teachers for almost three full years, I have a close relationship with them, so it is really nice to see them in person.”

As part of Honor Band and Patriot Singers, Becca Muise ’21 is also taking music classes at Stevenson during this hybrid school year. Unlike choir, where students regardless of if they’re on Zoom or in person work together, band students are separated based on if they chose to return to school or not.

“Right now, our hybrid model is that one director is doing a rehearsal in person, while another director is going to instruct on Zoom,” Muise said.

Additionally, Honor Band has had fewer rehearsals playing as a full band due to having to teach class online. Instead of practicing together daily as a band, they focus on sections and individual projects.

“We had some sectionals, where we go into breakout rooms and talk over the difficulties in our band pieces,” Muise said. “We have also done several individual projects where we focus on developing more of our skills as musicians”

Along with band students, many orchestra students are also adapting to playing their music in a hybrid setting. Patriot Orchestra student Evelyn Jiang ’22 has not yet returned to in-person learning but still enjoys online class as an opportunity to improve her violin skills.

“My favorite part about online orchestra has to be the focus on individual skills, especially during last semester,” Jiang said. “We got a lot of time to simply improve our technique, which is very appreciated by the students.”

Whether they are eager to return — like Lewis — or prefer to stay at home like Jiang, students in the music department recognize the importance of proper safety guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in school. In addition to social distancing, students are also required to disinfect their spaces, which in music classrooms includes instruments and music stands. 

“We wipe the music stands and chairs when we come in, but when we leave, the teachers have us go individually a few seconds apart to wipe out in order to keep a safe distance,” Lewis said.

Along with social distancing and disinfecting their areas, band students who attend in-person classes are also given special masks to use with their instruments. Masks given to band students are specifically made with slits: either horizontal or vertical with overlapping fabric so there is little to no exposure. 

Similar to the excitement of many students to return in person, Associate Orchestra Director Anthony Krempa looks forward to getting to know his students on a deeper level than he can over Zoom. He wants to understand different aspects of their personalities that did not come across virtually. 

“We got to know everyone’s faces really well over Zoom, but we didn’t get to know anything else about who they are,” Krempa said. “Now that their faces are covered up with masks, it’s like learning who they are all over again in a fun way.”

Although Stevenson’s music programs have had to adjust throughout the entire COVID-19 pandemic, students still relish getting to play their instruments or sing with peers. In fact, amid periods of isolation, students seem most excited to share who they truly are through music.

“The music department allows me to express myself and my passions, despite the limitations we are experiencing in these uncertain times,” Lewis said.