Just days before the MCPS school year began, adjustments were still being made to class schedules.
One of the more notable changes came when the music department dropped the 5th grade band program.
Arts education director Monte Grise emphasized that nothing has been cut or canceled. Rather, traditional music courses and programs like the 5th grade band are simply taking a brief intermission.
“The hope is that we start up in full gear by January and we’re off and running,” said Grise.
For the nearly 600 5th grade students who looked forward to picking up an instrument for the first time this year, no instrumental program may feel like a setback, but Grise said MCPS music instructors aren’t giving up on this year just yet.
“It’s not easy, and it's not perfect, but we have a lot of really committed staff and faculty that are amazing and are doing really creative things to keep the kids involved,” said Grise.
Each elementary school will have an arts and music education specialist who will work hand in hand with the cohort teachers.
The older students will experience more of those traditional music courses, but with some changes.
“Mask wearing, staying six feet apart, those kinds of things,” said Grise, “For the wind instruments in particular, we purchased these bell covers that just go over the bell so that any of the excess aerosols and things that go through the instrument actually get captured...it's kind of interesting.”
Their class sizes will be smaller, and they’ll have a limit on how long they can play their instruments, but that extra time will be spent on things like music theory and rhythm reading.
Grise said the key to upholding a robust music program for MCPS will be patience as they navigate COVID, but he’s confident that won’t be an issue.
“I feel like all the principals and all the buildings and all the administrators really are committed to keeping the integrity of the program.”