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The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

The Skyline Post

How the Skyline Orchestra is Rebuilding Post-COVID

Skeagle the Eagle practices music with its cardboard cello. Credit: J. Chou.

*Cough cough.* This sound has been a harbinger of sickness since 2020. Only recently have tensions regarding this sharp expelling of air diminished. However, COVID-19 cases continue to rise, and now they’re posing a potential concern for many, including the Skyline Orchestra.

COVID-19 impacted Interlochen, the summer music camp, in August 2023 for many orchestra members after a few people tested positive. “At Interlochen, obviously, [people] got COVID so that was a little scary,” said violinist Ella Ricci (‘24). “It definitely changed that Interlochen experience.”

Students and teachers alike have surmised that a reason for this is the continuous changing of restrictions in the district. For example, the 2023-24 school year, AAPS no longer requires masks after COVID isolation, as opposed to the 2022-23 policy of requiring masking until 10 days after symptoms or positive test. Additionally, AAPS does not require testing. “A lot of people aren’t wearing masks on our trips, [and] there’s no mandatory testing,” said orchestra council president Kaiwen Smith (‘25).

Additional orchestra-specific measures were taken at camp to ensure student safety. “At orchestra camp, we are still having all [students and staff] fill out a daily health screener,” said Skyline Orchestra Director Andrea Murray. “[It] helps us to know if there is anyone we should check in with and lets us know how everyone is feeling.”

While the orchestra has faced difficulties along the way, they are steadily recovering and improving to pre-pandemic levels of comfort. For example, meetings for Skyline Tri-M Music Honor Society, a music honor society club chapter hosted by Murray, have been moved in person for the first time since 2020. “We were being cautious,” Murray explained. “Virtual meetings served their point of allowing more flexibility for students and allowed some out-of-town guest speakers. However, it made it hard to engage with everyone.”

“I think that one thing that’s definitely made it more difficult [to transition out of virtual meetings] is that a lot of the people in charge, like me, have never been to a Tri-M meeting in person,” added Smith. “We don’t really know what to expect, so it’s hard to go back to a ‘normal’ we never had.”

The majority of the orchestra seems ready to fully embrace pre-pandemic comfort levels, with only the cautionary lessons of the pandemic in mind. “Mostly we can leave [COVID-19] behind,” said violist Milton Zhou (‘25). “Maybe for a few people — maybe sometimes it has an effect but it hasn’t really done much [this year].”

Others express slight disagreement. “I think that in general even after COVID was ‘done’ it was never really done,” said Ricci. “I feel like people are just so much more clean than they were before, and I feel like that won’t change ‘cause it’s something that everyone just does all the time regularly now.”

Orchestra members are looking forward to the new year of fun and music, including big performances. “I am most looking forward to Orchestra Night, a performance at Hill Auditorium with all of the middle schools and high schools in AAPS,” said violist Jessica Beaver (‘24). “It’s really cool to see different ages of musicians in the community play together.”

Other students are looking forward to supplemental activities. “I like team building,” says violinist Mona Spiteri (‘26). “It’s fun to meet new people!” Some are looking forward to demonstrating their skills through auditions and competitions. “I’m looking forward to the concerto competition,” said Ricci. “Crossing my fingers!”

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About the Contributor
Grace Yao, Writer

Grace Yao is a writer for the Skyline Post. In her free time, she reads books with the Skyline Book Club (who would’ve guessed), plays piano, and bothers her two cats.