CAMPUS: SCHS arts find new ways to create in distance learning

At around 8:10 in the morning, senior Jeremiah Vargas sits down at their kitchen table, their Chromebook open and logged in, listening to music while they wait for class. They have everything they need: some printer paper, a textbook to put underneath, a few pencils and an eraser.

In March 2020, SCHS began distance learning due to COVID-19. For many arts classes, this was a major shift as teachers had to figure out ways to continue their hands-on lessons from home. According to students taking Painting, very little has changed.

It’s a different story for those enrolled in music classes. This year, SCHS Music Director Johnny Erdman has begun teaching his students more about music theory, composition and history. Rather than feeling discouraged by the lack of ensemble time, Erdman views the change as a new opportunity.

“So often, we are pressed for time as we prepare for a concert or performance that we may not get to spend as much time on other areas within music,” Erdman said. “Because we are now in a completely new environment, we can work together to come up with new ways to incorporate (music theory and history) into our classes.”

Erdman plans on continuing the new lessons in the physical classroom once students go back to school. However, for some students, like senior Mansi Patel, a trumpet player in the Symphonic Band, the essence of the class is missing.

“I feel like I’m learning more but about something different,” Patel said. “I’m learning more about music history and theory but less about playing in an ensemble.”

Additionally, many students in art classes enjoyed the community the physical course offered. Now that each student is isolated in their own home, muted on a video call, some feel it is more difficult to connect with each other.

“With online classes, you can’t talk to anyone without maybe typing in the chat. But that gets in the way of drawing,” Vargas said.

Although many students feel they are lacking the most important aspects of their beloved art classes, Erdman believes it is important for students to remember their passion.

“I think that much like anything in life, there are multiple ways to look at this situation: as something we have to do and just have to get through it, or as an opportunity to reevaluate the things we’ve always done and incorporate the things we’ve always wanted to in new ways,” Erdman said.