Music students adjust to new rules during the pandemic


String and percussion players at Iowa State University are now required to wear facial masks while winds and brass players must practice social distancing.

Margaret Troup

Students in Iowa and all across the country who are earning their degrees in music and the arts are having trouble adapting to online classes.

Dancing in one’s living room, playing musical instruments six feet apart and having to teach oneself has been incredibly hard on students in arts education programs.

Such constraints on music classes have some students taking a gap year or dropping out of their programs entirely. Professors and teachers alike are trying to stop this from happening as much as possible by making changes to their curriculum.

“Students are spaced out a minimum of eight feet from each other, and rehearsals last no longer than 30 minutes,” said Michael Golemo, director of bands at Iowa State University. “So particles settle in the room before another ensemble or class uses our rehearsal room. We may be having some outdoor rehearsals as well this semester.”

Students in all different fields of study know how difficult adapting to online learning has been so far. Depending on the perspective, online and remote learning can be either a difficult adaptation to make or an interesting new experience to have.

Iowa State’s music program is experiencing even further changes. 

“All students bring their own music stands, and we are providing everyone with paper folders and disposable copies of the music,” Golemo said. “This way, no music will need to be returned to us. No two players are allowed to share a stand.”

Percussion and string instruments are required to wear masks during rehearsal. Wind and brass players cannot play their instruments while also wearing a mask, so they have to space themselves out according to social distancing guidelines.

The band is also using instrument covers to stop the spread of COVID-19. Putting a cover over the bells of instruments can help to keep particles from spreading.