Virtual Virtuosos

By Sania Daniyal


Due to COVID-19, the music department has managed to transform the curriculum in hopes of accommodating as many students as possible. From school events, such as holiday concerts and the new grading system, to statewide programs, like All-State, everything has been altered. The school hopes that by implementing new plans of action, the NHP community will be able to stay safe and healthy during these unprecedented times.


One of the most competitive music programs in New York is All-State, in which most musicians have to score a 99 or 100 on a Level Six solo piece to even be considered for selection. Each year, approximately 900 out of many thousands of students are notified at the end of August about their selection into the NYSSMA Conference All-State music groups. Usually, All-State is held in person, but this was not an option this year due to the pandemic. Instead, the organization has opted for virtual performances.


“This is an extremely difficult process for the students and the conductors. The festival was held over the course of four days in Rochester, NY, where the students would rehearse in person for hours and put on a live performance for their parents and teachers. The students would be away for those four days, staying in Rochester,” said orchestra teacher Ms. Tomkiw.


“Sadly, the All-State Concerts have been canceled for 2020. The NYSSMA Winter Conference, where these concerts take place, will be virtual this year, and will include a Young Composers Honor Concert as well as an Electronic Music Showcase. The NYSSMA Solo Festival and All-State auditions in the spring will be held completely online, and we are hoping for the in-person All-State concerts to return in December 2021,” said band teacher Ms. Bagley.


I am looking forward to the day when it is safe enough for all the students to return to school without worrying about the virus...

“I am playing violin for the Symphonic Orchestra, and it is definitely a different experience than in-person orchestra. We are recording ourselves on a program called SmartMusic. It takes a bit of getting used to because you have to listen to a recording in your ear, video yourself on another device, and play at the same time. We already had a few meetings through Zoom, but the final result will be published in March. Although it is sad that I won’t be playing with other musicians physically around me, I am so grateful for the opportunity and am excited for the final product,” said senior Olivia Wong, a violinist in the All-State program.


Source by Olivia Wong

All-State has turned to virtual meetings in hopes of being able to continue the program.


SmartMusic is an educational music program made to grade musicians’ abilities based on their performance. This year, the school has decided to implement the application into their curriculum.


“SmartMusic is a robust website with lots of tools available to help students grow as musicians. The best features are the included accompaniments, metronome and ability to hear your part. I love having a centralized place for student recordings. I can hear students’ playing, and I can monitor their progress. Although the scoring part of SmartMusic has some accuracy problems, most of my students have been able to submit assignments without a problem,” said Ms. Bagley.


Some students have also voiced their opinions on the new program.


“SmartMusic is a good way to practice once you understand how to navigate it. The first time I used it, I had trouble adjusting the tempo and recording, but as I completed more assignments, it became easier,” said freshman Nicole Donnelly.


“I think that SmartMusic is a pretty cool tool for trying to improve our musical skills. However, sometimes it is unable to decipher each note accurately, which can be a setback,” said senior Sarah Razzaq.


Source by Olivia Wong

Students have been using SmartMusic as a way of submitting musical recordings for grades.


The annual holiday concert is something cherished every school year. But, due to COVID-19, it will not be happening this year. Many members of the school community are saddened by the news.


“As of now, we cannot perform live concerts, which is heartbreaking to the music students and teachers. Despite this, there will be a holiday video concert in late December, featuring the vocal ensembles of all five schools in the district,” said Ms. Bagley.


Although people are upset with the lack of a holiday concert, the video ensemble will be a suitable replacement for the time being. The NHP community is encouraged to continue to stay resilient during these times.


“I am looking forward to the day when it is safe enough for all the students to return to school without worrying about the virus. I want to hear the music again, performed by the fantastic students who are members of the New Hyde Park Orchestra program. I want to close my eyes as I conduct the groups and let the music played by my students' envelop me and transport me to higher planes of existence,” said Ms. Tomkiw.