How Virtual Orchestra and Band are Playing Out


Ella Warden’s Violin

Orchestra and band have turned virtual this fall. Students practice individually at home and during group rehearsals held on Teams.

However, the musicians mute themselves during these rehearsals due to technological issues. The sound from all of the members would be too much for the school computers to process and would end up sounding choppy. This limits the musicians’ performance, since they cannot hear each other play. It is more difficult for sections playing with the same part of the song to stay on time while playing.

Sophomore Christian Tedesco plays percussion in the marching and concert bands and said, ”Just the one person’s part is not enough to hear all the melodies and harmonies that make the song sound good. Musicians need to hear other people playing to experience this.”


Band teacher Mr. Schopp has found a way to still have a concert. He has asked students to send in videos of themselves playing their individual instruments that he will later edit together. It will be a substitute for an in-person concert.

Mr. Schopp said, “Virtual Band has been a challenge to say the least. Due to internet latency, it is impossible for students to perform together in real time, so playing as an ensemble is not a thing. Unfortunately, much of what makes being in a performing group exciting is the group experience of performing together, so what we have done is moved into more of an individual dynamic of working on skills and learning parts with the hope and expectation that we will be able to play together soon.  We are planning an October Virtual performance, and we hope that our Winter Concert in December will occur.”

On the other hand, because its outside, the marching band has been able to have in-person practices.

Sophomore Ariana Morgan plays the synthesizer in the marching band and indoor band. She said, “The biggest challenge that we have faced is getting used to not being in close contact. In marching band now, we all wear masks, and we cannot be anywhere near each other. It is quite difficult to always be socially distanced, but it’s worth it in the end, because we are all healthy!”


The orchestra has also created alternatives for their annual performances. The National Junior Honor Society’s induction ceremony had to be called off last spring and the club waited until this fall to hold it virtually. A small group of orchestra members has always played at the ceremony to add a musical ambience. This year, Mrs. Antioquia (known to students as “Mrs. A”), the orchestra teacher at both KV and the high school, asked the orchestra to send in recordings of themselves playing classical solo pieces.

The orchestra at the high school holds weekly rehearsals on Thursdays during HATS. They learn new songs together, to be practiced individually.

Mrs. A said, “Virtual orchestra has been something both totally new and yet familiar at the same time. While the avenue is different – everyone working individually through a music software – the group unity is still there. I was so honored at the first Thursday practice when so many students logged in to join. Although it is a challenge not being able to play together in unison, the camaraderie the orchestra has built up over the years makes virtual orchestra still possible and what hope is an enjoyable, engaging experience for all.”

Junior violinist Aanniya Kohker said, “Virtual orchestra has helped me throughout this school year by allowing me and many other students to have a safe environment. It has given me a sense of morality. It’s something I look forward to each week. Though there are some restrictions, such as not being able to play together as a coherent group, I still really enjoy it. We may not be playing together, but we are still an orchestra and are connecting through music. Virtual orchestra helps me find enjoyment during these difficult times.”

One way that the orchestra has been practicing is through a program called SmartMusic. The program has recordings of professional musicians playing the songs they are playing during rehearsals, so students can practice with an orchestral background.

Junior violist Lexi Goddard said, “Virtual orchestra has been as good as it could possibly be. Being involved in both our school orchestra and the Philadelphia Young Artist Orchestra (PYAO), my experiences with virtual orchestra have varied. In PYAO we are in the midst of preparing a short recording, so zoom rehearsals involve everyone playing a section of their part in front of the conductor and their peers to ensure everyone is as accurate as possible. In HH orchestra it is mainly a time to practice the music that we might perform in the future, and ask Mrs. Any questions we may have, The biggest challenge so far is every rehearsal is individualized. I am used to playing in ensembles where you are taught to rely on each other and the conductor, creating a community-centered atmosphere. While it has been an adjustment, I am just glad to continue to play and learn more.”

With safety as the utmost priority, virtual meetings and sending in individual performances has become the new normal for these musical groups. Orchestra and band are important activities to many students throughout the school district, and their programs are trying their best to adapt to the new setting.