Harvard Musicians Report Problems With Covid-19 Restrictions | New

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Returning to classes, rehearsals and in-person performances this month after a long hiatus, the Harvard musicians said they were facing new challenges in complying with the University’s Covid-19 guidelines.

The music department is following official Harvard guidelines for distancing and indoor masking, according to an email from music department chair and African-American music teacher Ingrid T. Monson.

Andrew G. Clark, director of choral activities at the college which teaches a performance-based cantata class, said he and his students used a suitable singing mask that optimizes sound and prevents mask inhalation during vigorous singing. .

“We provided them to the students and we have the support of the Arts Office and the Music Department,” he said. “The College has really helped us deliver what we need at all levels. “

Other faculty members, however, have encountered difficulties in finding masks and other personal protective equipment for their students. Mark E. Olson, director of the Harvard Band and Wind Ensemble, said slit masks and bell covers are difficult to obtain for woodwind and brass players.

“You just need to have a mask as close to your face as possible but allowing you to insert the mouthpiece,” Olson said.

“We are always looking for and getting better masks that allow us to perform and protect ourselves,” he added. “They are out there, but there is a high demand for masks and a low supply, because all the groups in the area and the colleges, everyone is ordering masks.”

Ruben A. Fonseca ’24, a percussionist with the Harvard Radcliffe Orchestra, said HRO has yet to rehearse as a full band due to a lack of bell covers despite their first performance not being at eight repetitions.

“We are a strong enough group that everything is going well,” said Fonesca. “But it sucks that we weren’t able to get together as a group because of these restrictions.”

Bell covers provide an additional level of protection against Covid-19 but can compromise the sound quality of an instrument. A euphonium player in the wind ensemble had intonation issues that were only resolved when he removed his bell cover, Olsen said.

“For example, a euphonium player – we found out last week – as he started playing in the upper register notes, the intubation pitch was turned off,” he said. “And I said, ‘Take the cover off the bell and let’s play’, and they had no problem with intonation.”

Gabriel U. Ortiz ’24, an HRO trumpeter, said his Harvard bell had not yet arrived, but had already used protective gear.

“I think it muffles the sound,” he said. “I feel like my sound isn’t shining, it kind of softens the edge of the brass sound.”

Despite the new challenges, Clark said extra precautions are worth it when it comes to the struggle to make music online.

“Taking every precaution to allow singing together is worth it, because making music, especially choral music and vocal music on Zoom, can really be a dehumanizing and disappointing experience,” he said. declared. “I think we want to do everything we can to do our part so that we never have to go back to the Zoom Choir. “

—Editor Felicia He can be contacted at [email protected]


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