Ensembles thrive under new policies

Miles Potje

Ensemble Members Continue to Accommodate Rehearsal Policies
As the Augustana Music Department abides by given policies to ensure social distancing throughout campus, students involved in ensembles must do their best to adjust to the recent changes to their rehearsal processes.
Last week, the Observer interviewed multiple professors of music who described some of the recent policies put in place. These policies include, but are not limited to, a separation of performers by at least six feet at all times, the splitting up of rehearsals into multiple sections and the utilization of masks tailored specifically to accommodate the performer’s health and performance ability.
Prior to the spread of COVID-19, ensemble members rehearsed in close proximity to one another during an hour-long period. Each ensemble met multiple times a week, depending on it’s individual schedule.
According to Haley Tromblee, a sophomore music education major, students were able to socialize before and after rehearsals as they pleased, starting in the hall and moving into the classroom to chat and catch up with one another.
Now, however, this socialization is much more scattered due to uncertain circumstances. “We just play it by ear for practices,” Tromblee said. “In regards to rehearsal spaces, sometimes we’re split up, sometimes we’re all together.”
Nathaniel Wilson, devoted member of the Augustana symphonic band among other ensembles, continues to view his french horn as a way to express himself “without having to use words.”
While symphonic band practices for their upcoming performances,  concert band members are currently practicing with no plans for a performance this term.
“We’re just playing music for fun, we don’t really have a goal because we are not able to have concerts yet,” Amanda Walljasper, a sophomore CA at Swanson Commons, said.
The department is dedicated to keeping traditions such as “Christmas at Augustana,” and they’re planning to record every piece separately and upload them digitally. Though this plan is subject to change, it highlights the dedication of the department to the welcoming traditions upon which it was founded.
Keenan Ellis, a junior in his second year of Augie choir, chooses to not only be grateful for the performances the ensemble is able to perform, but for all of the positive changes in his experiences as well.
Ellis surrounds himself with choir members, such as his girlfriend and roommates, orienting what he would call his “bubble system” around them.
Ellis acknowledges that the new policies have inspired him and other ensemble members to become more comfortable with how they relate to Augustana choir.
“It means something to everyone, but always in a different way,” Ellis said. To Ellis, choir functions as time away from the stress of his day. Stress from coursework and his job.
Students and staff of the music department are continuing to dedicate themselves to their art, as well as to supporting each other’s individual challenges in regards to COVID-19.