The Band Played On: Finding Musical Opportunities While Distance Learning.

While MHS Band and Music Production students miss their daily classroom routines, their teacher, Andrew Forster, has filled some of the void by using distance learning technology to provide them with opportunities they wouldn’t necessarily have in a typical school year. 

“I think the way that Mr. Forster has been using zoom for band is extremely productive,” said senior Rosemary Peterson. “There doesn’t seem to be a lot you can do in a performing art class when you can’t actually do the performing art, but he has found many activities that are relevant and educational.”  She went on to say that he has been using Kahoot and other games to teach technical aspects of music that he doesn’t always have time to cover when the class is preparing for a concert.”Despite the current situation, Mr. Forster has been working really hard to keep us playing and educated while still trying to make sure that we are being exposed to new and interesting things without straying from relevant topics.” 

He’s also gone above and beyond by bringing industry experts into the virtual learning environment of both classes. His first guest was 2006 MHS graduate Phil McGowan, who has been working in sound recording in the motion picture, television, and video game industry since 2006. McGowan shared his experience with the Music Production class, from breaking into the business to going freelance in 2015, and emphasized the importance of formal education and making connections. 

Composer Randall Standridge, who one student described as the only relatable composer in the world, met with the band students on Zoom on Monday, May 11th. The down to earth Texas composer is a favorite of Mr. Forster’s students. Band students have performed 3 of his compositions over the past few years and were set to perform another of his pieces in their March concert which was canceled due to Covid-19. Standridge shared his techniques for composing and encouraged students to pursue their creative side, whatever form it takes. He also stressed the importance of routine and perseverance.

Other guests included Jack Burt of the University of Maine who gave a live concert and lecture to students on May 6th, Scotty Huff, a Composer, Producer, and Musician from Nashville who has performed with greats like Keith Urban and Natalie Cole, and Professor Anthony Maiello of George Mason University who has Guest Conducted for the United States Navy Band. 

“I love what Mr. Forster is doing with our classes. It’s really cool that he’s reaching out to so many professionals and giving us the opportunity to ask questions,” said senior Ella Nash. “Even though music is a hard subject to teach online, Mr. Forster has been doing an exceptional job of keeping us engaged and giving plenty of opportunities.”



























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