HHS Students’ Thoughts on Full-Remote Music Classes


John Lewiecki, The Painted Turtle Photography

Band and orchestra students performed a piece together at the 2019 Winter Concert. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 restrictions, concerts are unlikely to happen any time soon.

Elle Cavanaugh, Staff

Hingham High’s school year kicked off last Wednesday, September 16, with all-remote classes. So far, students have had mixed experiences with the virtual classroom, but many look forward to returning to the actual classroom this upcoming Monday, September 28, through the hybrid-learning plan. The school’s music students, however, will have to continue learning remotely (for now), which has stirred up much conversation.

Because all three music departments–band, chorus, and orchestra–require complete at-home learning, the classes take place during specific blocks that begin before 8 a.m. (start of the first period for most students) or after 12:05 p.m. (the end of the school day for most students.)

Some meet during the “Period 1-Remote” block, which lasts from 7:40 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. The idea is for students to log in from home and then arrive at school for Period 2, which begins at 9:25 a.m. This layout has created some issues, but some unique opportunities as well. 

Many students with siblings without a remote first period now must adapt and figure out a new plan to get to school. Other students who rely on their parents or buses for rides at 8 a.m. also express some frustration.

Sophomore Bridget Baynes, a member of the band, explains, “the transportation’s difficult because I can’t take the bus. I’m either going to ride my bike to school or get a ride from my parents when I have band.”

Along with creating issues with transportation, the remote first period conflicts with some science courses and their lab blocks.

“I have been playing in the Hingham schools’ orchestras since I was in third grade, and not being able to be in orchestra and have that feeling of culmination really hurts.”

— Pria Parker, Senior

While the schedule has its flaws, it also has proven to reap some fun and exciting benefits. Because everything is virtual and band and orchestra classes meet during the same remote first period, Band Director Mr. Cincotta and Orchestra Director Ms. Sassano have teamed up to run joint classes once a week.

Junior Dominic Kanter comments, “I think it is a good musical experience to join with the orchestra, and I find it to be musically enriching to hear and exchange ideas and practices with a group of people that does similar stuff.”

While all the band and orchestra classes meet during the Period 1-Remote block, chorus students like Senior Carter Anderson meet after the 12:05 p.m. dismissal for a 1:00 p.m. virtual class.

He explains that he finds virtual-chorus enjoyable, but reveals that “the main downside is that chorus does not start until 1:00, leaving a considerable amount of time between our last class and chorus.”

Anderson adds that “despite the virtual shift and the inability to perform with my peers, I still find chorus to be a fun class. Dr. Young continues to challenge us, is determined to make us better singers, and helps us learn the ins and outs of music.”

Freshman Tadd Cavanaugh agrees with Anderson admitting that, “even being online, Ms. Sassano has made the class so much fun with every activity and scale.” 

The common consensus from interviewees is that while the music classes have managed to preserve their fun dynamics, playing music remotely and together definitely has some obstacles.

Baynes continues, “remote band’s hard because we can’t hear each other playing” and junior Willa Davis of the chorus adds, “it is kind of weird when we have to put ourselves on mute to sing warm-ups because there is no longer a feeling of unity and connection that we normally get when singing together in class.”

Remaining on mute until breakout rooms, combined with the low possibility of any concerts, is disappointing for the music students. Even so, the students continue to admire the programs.

Anderson explains, “Having grown closer over the course of four years, my friends make chorus one the highlights of my day.”

Parker also confesses that despite the situation, “I’ve enjoyed every second I had in the music program, and I’m so lucky that I got to be a part of it!”

Even with all the issues the pandemic, and consequently, remote learning has created, the music students and teachers of HHS are trying to make the best of their situation, to continue doing what they love most: sharing music with one another.