COVID Limits Chamber Orchestra


Beautiful melodies. Mrs. Detwiler and her students, Madalyn Miller, Alyssa Stetser, and Emma Lunglhofer, who are selected to play in the AAJHS Chamber Orchestra this year, take a break from practicing in class. The Coronavirus restrictions continue to prevent the group from meeting together. Madalyn Miller said, “I am hopeful one day this will all go away, and we will get to share our talent with people. Adults and kids love to hear our music.”


The AAJHS Chamber orchestra tryouts were held, and the results have been posted. Though at this time, the future seems undisclosed with the complications that the Coronavirus disease has brought. Annually, the group would have been performing and practicing together; however, the orchestra has not been permitted to play in-person. This has left students and teachers wondering what the future of the orchestra will contain.


Mrs. Kelly Detwiler, the Orchestra Director for AAJHS, said, “The orchestra is going to delay all planning of any events until January. If the students are not back into in-person classes, I will consider practicing by Google Meets, and possibly performing a virtual concert.” She described the students as the “best of the best” and has high expectations for the students when they eventually gather together (whether it be virtual or in-person) and begin playing.


Normally, the orchestra would have seven to eight concerts planned during the holiday season. On an average year, the group has been able to perform four to six times in the spring. The chamber orchestra students would play at holiday assemblies, elementary school demonstrations/performances and public events. This year, these gatherings are not permitted when following the disease prevention limitations. However, the young musicians still remain hopeful for future concerts and look forward to perhaps one day playing together. 


Marissa Weibley, a chamber orchestra cellist in eighth grade, said, “I am hopeful that one day the group will play together because I have hope that soon this whole COVID-19 thing will disappear.” Many other chamber students are also staying optimistic through these troubling times.


According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, “To the greatest extent possible, use virtual group events, gatherings, or meetings, and promote distancing of at least six feet between people if events are held.” This restriction is one of the many guidelines that limit the AAJHS Chamber Orchestra from being able to create melodies as a group. 


The newest members of the chamber orchestra were selected by professional musicians in the Altoona Symphony. Each of the participants submitted recordings of themselves performing two songs. The melodies were complex and drove the students to showcase their best skills. The results were posted on Oct. 25, 2020.  Since the announcement regarding the results, the students have received little information about any events or progress with playing as a group due to the prior discussed Coronavirus limitations. 


Nonetheless, the guidelines and restrictions are in place to prevent everyone from becoming sick. The Coronavirus is very harmful, and the restrictions should be followed to protect the well-being of every student and teacher in the district. It is especially important at this point in time to follow the guidelines since we are experiencing a surge in Coronavirus cases. “The head of the US Centers for Disease Control Prevention warned on Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2020 that the COVID-19 pandemic, still raging with unprecedented fury nationwide, will pose the country’s grimmest health crisis yet over the next few months,  before vaccines become widely available,” according to (CDC chief warns Americans face ‘rough’ winter from COVID-19 surge)


The quote, “Music can change the world,”spoken by Ludwig van Beethoven, has the ability to inspire the young musicians. During this time and it’s untold future, it is difficult for the students to continue being motivated to perfect their skills and produce angelic melodies together. Beethoven’s saying however helps students to realize that they still have the potential to someday create music that is powerful enough to change the world.