The music ensembles at Pacific have seen a drop in student participation since COVID-19 began in Spring 2020.
During the 2019-2020 school year, Pacific’s Concert Choir had 77 students, a number which dropped to 47 in Fall 2021.
“Choir was considered dangerous. Choir, as an aerosol spreader, was one of the [single most dangerous] activities you could participate in,” said Dr. Scott Tuomi, director of both the Chamber Choir and Concert Choir.
Choir was not the only ensemble that saw a drop in students. The Concert Band went from 56 students in 2019-2020 to 48 students in 2021-2022 but for different reasons.
“A lot of people dropped it that year because they weren’t there for lecture[s]. They were there to play music together and that was the one thing we couldn’t do anymore.” said senior Danny Canty, a saxophone player for the Symphonic and Jazz bands. “It ended up being mostly music majors that stuck around.”
Music majors, as well as students at Pacific on music scholarships, are required to participate in at least one music ensemble.
Dr. Tuomi also noted that there was a lack of incoming freshmen to fill the spots that were opened when last year’s seniors graduated. According to NPR, undergraduate, first-year student enrollment dropped by 3.1% nationwide this fall.
There was also a difficulty with recording and practicing. Each student had to individually record their part and then send it to the director for rehearsal. The directors then had to send the recordings offsite to be put together into one. Students missed the collaboration while also becoming hypercritical of their own performances.
“There is a certain amount of nuance that is lost when you are all recording your part individually,” said Maggie Trettin, a senior in the Chamber Choir.
According to Trettin, as classes and performances returned to in-person, music students have noticed a boost in spirits as they regain their sense of community.
“It was hard to not feel that sense of collaboration and sense of community. Being able to have that back this year is actually really really wonderful and amazing,” said Trettin.
Dr. Tuomi has hope that the music programs will see a return to their previous numbers in the spring and continue into next year.
“I think it will take a little while to recover, but we will persevere,” said Tuomi. – Jazmine Henning
Jazmine Henning is a junior and writer for the Index. She is currently perusing a degree in English Literature. She is from the Gresham area and recently transferred from Mt. Hood Community College. Her best friend is her cat Autumn.