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Central Coast music education changes tune in COVID world

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Posted at 12:08 PM, Jul 31, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-31 16:02:36-04

Staying in tune will remain a challenge for students in music courses this school year. Those playing instruments on the Central Coast this year will see a different approach and educators are doing their best to make sure student continue loving the sound of music.

This fall, sports fields won't be filled with the entertaining performances of marching band.
About 115 members make up the Tiger Marching Band at San Luis Obispo High School. When the pandemic hit, instructor Sharon Jesky knew her marching band faced a different type of hurdle.

"They're really close-knit group of kids," Jesky. "They really enjoy each other, and each others' company. We got to keep these kids involved. We got to keep them connected to each other."

New and returning members would be going through band camp right now. That isn't happening. Now the curriculum is changing, moving away from marching band this upcoming semester, but Jesky is finding ways to strengthen the camaraderie with the help of the student band board.

"Keeping them engaged and connected to each other," Jesky said. "A lot of what we do really depends on that team feeling. What we often call our band family. Creating that online is going to be tough but we're going to do our best."

For Brynn Belyea, a music instructor at Morro Bay High School and Los Osos Middle School, he has worked to make sure a student's love for music doesn't fall by the wayside.

"My biggest motivation is to try to keep our program thriving and keep all these kids interested in becoming better musicians and enjoying music, that's always my focus," Belyea said.

He, along with other instructors, are exploring music recording apps to help bring a high level of collaboration.
Soundtrap and Note Flight give the ability to compose and provide almost a recording studio feel to the education.

"We're trying to get them to simulate more of an ensemble type of setting," he said. "That's what the end goal is. Hopefully when we get back to a normal circumstance, we can kind of pick up where we left off."

Two national studies are being done to understand the science of spittle from instruments and how to best move forward safely with band practice in a COVID-world when schools go back to the classroom, field, and concert hall.