Orchestrating Online Music Classes

Orchestra director Lauren Morabito (top row, center) works with cello students. Photo: Hendrick Hudson School District

The Hendrick Hudson High School auditorium and practice rooms may be silent, but the sound of orchestral music fills the air when teacher and orchestra director Lauren Morabito meets with her students online for group lessons. 


Teaching students how to play orchestra music remotely is a tall order, but Morabito is using technology to stay connected and keep everyone advancing musically. During video conferences with violin, viola, cello and bass students, she shares recordings of the music they are working on, and has the students play along with it. The students also practice scales with her from their home computers. 



“Mrs. Morabito has made this transition very easy by providing us with various tools to help us succeed during this difficult time,” said senior cellist Marissa McGuire.  


“Between video chats, Mrs. Morabito recording herself playing sections of our music, and her daily tips and motivational messages, I have enjoyed continuing orchestra through digital learning.” 


The teacher also is planning a virtual spring concert. It will require each student to record his or her part to a metronome and send the file to her, after which she will combine the recordings into one cohesive piece. 



Remote instrument instruction has been a new experience for Morabito’s students. “They’ve listened to recordings of songs they are practicing for reference, but playing with recordings on a regular basis is not something we usually do, because we typically have one another to practice with,” she said. 


“Although online school cannot replicate the in-person interaction of our normal classroom, Mrs. Morabito is doing a fantastic job of adjusting to the circumstances to make sure that we can still rehearse our music,” said junior Zoe Rose. “These lessons have also been a nice way to check in and see people face-to-face for a few minutes.” 


Morabito said she will continue some online platforms, such as Google Classroom, even after school returns to normal, and she has come to rely on YouTube for organizing playlists for her students, as well as for reference purposes.  “I’m finding it kind of fascinating to work with these platforms for orchestra instruction,” she said.

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