WISCONSIN — As Wisconsin schools consider plans for the fall they will have to decide how to run fine arts programs, if at all.
Some students and teachers are advocating for creative measures to keep music alive.
Since Greta Thoresen picked up the French horn five years ago. Since then, she has joined school bands and the local youth symphony.
"Somewhat the social component, but I also really enjoy just getting a chance to take a break from school and get to be around my friends and get to play an instrument and work with amazing teachers," said Greta.
Greta will be a senior at Sheboygan South High School this fall. She wants to play French horn in college, but she is not sure if she'll get to perform her senior year.
Greta says her school district is still debating how to handle music programs.
"I'm sad that I might not be able to get to make the music with the people that I like to," Greta said.
Sheboygan Lutheran High School plans move forward with the music programs this fall along with major changes.
"I think music really provides an outlet for our students to be able to express themselves emotionally. It also allows them to be social in a family and group setting in ways that maybe things like history and science wouldn’t be able to afford," said Matt Thiel, Music Director at Sheboygan Lutheran High School.
But Matt says due to staff reductions, or reassignments, not every district can do what his school is doing.
"Unfortunately some of my colleagues and peers and friends at other schools are having a hard time making music education a reality," Matt said.
He is confident there are ways to make music education available to students virtually or in person.
"We have a very well ventilated gym with access to the outside in all different corners of our gym to help with air turnover. All students will be wearing masks. They’ll be socially distanced. They won’t share anything," said Matt.
On a tip from the National Music Educators Association, they will also use nylons to reduce some of the aerosol spread from instruments.
If your district cuts its music program, Louis Menchaca, Ph.D., says there are ways to supplement those voids.
"Just carving out as little as 30 minutes a day four times a week in some structured, or unstructured time with projects that students come up with on their own would go a long way to keeping the skill set alive," said Menchaca, a music professor and department chair at Concordia University.
He suggests spending 10-minute intervals on work including a piece from an instructor, music the student aspires to learn and then just listening to music.
For students who do not play an instrument, Menchaca advises letting them watch reputable orchestras online followed by a discussion.
"Ask your students, your child what this makes them feel what there's what memories, they trigger And then you can use that as a discussion point for the activity or just further discussion. But again, letting the music move those cognitive functions around," said Menchaca.
Greta hopes her school will find ways to keep the music alive safely.
"I think I can definitely see where they're coming from. And it makes me nervous, but I just like music so much that sometimes it just if you really want it to happen again," said Greta.
Click here for more details on Menchaca's suggestions for parents on how to keep music education going.
Click here for Menchaca's suggestions on classroom instruction modifications.