Orchestra, band students prepare for ISSMA while following COVID-19 guidelines


Jillian Moore

Freshman Carolyn Jia plays her instrument in preparation for ISSMA. She practices independently, in private lessons and in Concert Orchestra so she can perform well in ISSMA, even though it is virtual this year.

Michelle Wan

As ISSMA  (Indiana State School Musical Association) season begins,  the CHS orchestras and bands at this school have been practicing and preparing for their competitions while taking precautions for safety against COVID-19. According to Maggie Hite, Festival and Sinfonia orchestra teacher, ISSMA performances will be virtual this year. 

“Students are to upload videos of themselves playing their instruments through the HeartOut app and judges will send their ratings and feedback,” Hite said. 

Samantha Walz, member of Wind Symphony 1 and sophomore, said there were two sessions of ISSMA this year which included submission windows for entries. She said the first session ended in November 2020 and the second one started Feb. 3 and ended March 3.

Walz said she believes though ISSMA changed procedurally, her stress level has decreased because it is more comfortable playing in front of a device rather than judges. 

“ISSMA is also a different experience emotionally because it’s a little less stressful playing in front of your phone rather than in front of the judge, and we also get three attempts to record our performance,” she said. 

Sophomore Samantha Walz practices playing her instrument in preparation for ISSMA. Band students must submit a video of themselves playing through the HeartOut app from Feb. 3 to March 3, in accordance with the new ISSMA procedures during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Jillian Moore)

Walz said though her stress decreased during this year’s ISSMA season, she still prefers performing in front of judges because it allows her to be more involved.

“I like the experience we got doing ISSMA virtual this year, but the experience you get by being involved in an audition/performance process even though it can be a bit stressful, it is still a great experience,” she said.

Carolyn Jia, member of Concert Orchestra and freshman, said because of COVID-19 restrictions this year has definitely been an adjustment. She said the environment and procedures related to her private lessons have changed quite a bit.

“Orchestra is different this year because we don’t have chairs and we have to keep on our masks,” Jia said. “My private lessons are over FaceTime now and it feels uncomfortable taking lessons with my teacher through my phone. I also had to deal with feeling less motivated to practice as frequently as I did before COVID.”

However, despite those challenges, Jia said she’s still looking forward to the ISSMA contest.

She said, “It is a really good experience because it allows us to practice performing in front of someone and get very helpful feedback from it.”