Chesapeake teacher, students create virtual orchestra during COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 9:09 PM, Jul 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-06 22:29:48-04

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - The COVID-19 pandemic has been tough on students across the country.

For orchestra students at Crestwood Middle School in Chesapeake, they haven’t missed a beat.

“A lot of kids use that as an escape from their daily life,” Crestwood Middle School Orchestra Director Orion Burke said of his class.

Two of Burke’s students this year were Ana Martinez-Medina and Jackson Berger.

“It genuinely did feel like a family,” Berger said.

“You always felt very connected with everybody else,” Martinez-Medina added.

Each year, Burke said graduating eighth graders like Berger and Martinez-Medina look forward to the spring concert.

“That spring concert is their last one at Crestwood,” Burke said.

But COVID-19 left students with questions.

“I wasn't even sure if we were still going to do orchestra,” Martinez-Medina said.

Their concert was canceled.

“I just hated the thought of them not being able to have that last memory with everybody,” Burke said.

“Thankfully, our director had a very good, creative idea,” Berger added.

Burke’s idea was a virtual concert, with each student recording themselves playing.

Burke told News 3 he recorded all parts himself to a metronome and sent the recording out to students to play along to.

“They really just had to rely on playing to that recording sent out,” Burke said. “We're able to play along to that so that everyone can make sure they're playing at the exact same speed coming in at the exact same time.”

“I was pretty surprised. It was put together so well,” Berger added. “I was just glad that I could see everybody's faces again.”

Burke said, so far, the video has thousands of views after being posted online about a week ago.

“I'm having comments from music teachers all over the country asking me how they can do this with their own program,” he said.

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He hopes this will inspire others for whatever lies ahead, as students like Martinez-Medina said they're glad to end their year on a high note.

“Through any circumstance, really, using teamwork can lead to such big things that you could never even imagine of,” Martinez-Medina said.

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