Why Music Extracurriculars Should Return

Top- Jazz Ensemble, bottom- Chamber Singers

Top- Jazz Ensemble, bottom- Chamber Singers

Dan Stark, Student Editor

A year later after school closed down and the Covid-19 pandemic ramped up, life at Westhampton Beach High School has returned to a somewhat normal setting. Students have returned to school full time after a combination of in-person and remote learning and many extracurricular activities like sports and clubs have returned. However, music extracurriculars have been strangely absent from the activities allowed to return. These activities have ignored when in reality, they should be allowed to run along with other extracurriculars.

The WHBHS music department offers many wonderful extracurriculars, with the main ones being Jazz Ensemble, Vocal Jazz, Chamber Singers and Pep Band. Of these four clubs, only Pep Band has had any activity, playing a one-off performance at the April 1 home football game. The rest of these clubs have sat dormant for the past year, with no official plans to return.

At first glance, some may say that it is dangerous for music clubs to return, as coronavirus is transmitted through the air and music extracurriculars involve air with singing and playing instruments. However, many precautions have been taken by the music department to reduce virus spread and allow band and choir classes to operate. Both classes rehearse in the auditorium, allowing students to properly distance three feet part from each other. Band students place cloth covers over their instruments and wear specifically designed playing masks that allows students to play instruments while wearing a mask. Choir students wear masks during singing and at all times during class. These protocols have been followed diligently by band members, a stark contrast from the ineffective mask wearing seen in sports that have returned. So it seems confusing as to why music extracurriculars haven’t returned despite taking the proper precautions that other activities have been lacking in. 

Additionally, it is important to note the relative small size of music extracurriculars, as last year there were 23 students in Jazz Ensemble, 34 students in Chamber Singers and 36 students in Vocal Jazz. School band and choir classes like Symphonic Band, which has 46 students, and Concert Choir, which has 72 students, have been rehearsing in school with the previously mentioned precautions. If these large ensembles can rehearse with no notable quarantines to date and the proper precautions, it doesn’t make sense that smaller groups would not be allowed to return. 

Though the groups have yet to return, the district is supposedly working on bringing music extracurriculars back. But if all the precautions are in place and student interest is there, then what exactly are they working on? The return of music extracurriculars is long overdue and their absence while other activities are running is a disappointment.