Students Prep for Powerful Virtual Concert

The Northwest School is proud to present its Fall Music Concert on Dec. 16, at 7:00 pm. The concert will present pre-recorded pieces played by Middle and Upper School students.

“We may be alone in our rooms, but we can still enjoy the magic of playing music together with a little help from technology,” says Orchestra teacher Jo Nardolillo. “I am particularly proud of how all our musicians broke down these barriers, poured their hearts into our work, and produced a powerful concert in spite of everything that is going on.”

Jo prepares the music for her students by uploading all of the individual instrument scores into a software program called Sibelius that mimics the instrument sounds and produces a pre-recorded computerized orchestra piece.

Students then practice together by muting their microphones in the Zoom classroom and playing their individual parts, essentially playing their individual parts in sync with the computer-generated score. This muting eliminates feedback issues and latency problems that occur when Zoom microphones are on.

Despite the challenges of playing remotely, many students, such as senior Hana H., have found growth as musicians.

“I trust myself and my playing more now,” says Hana. “I only know what I think the music is supposed to feel like. Because I am by myself and I can’t hear the other students, all I can do is my best to bring out what I think is the proper emotion of the piece and trust that my classmates are doing their best as well.”

In some ways, practicing for the performance during class is business as usual. Aviva L. ‘25 notes that during class, Jo will still tell only specific instruments to play various sections, just as she would do during an in-person class.

“All the work that Jo puts in to create the backing track with the individual instruments is incredibly helpful,” says Aviva. “It doesn’t replace being in person, but it is the next best thing.”

The Fall Music Concert will include songs such as the Avengers: Endgame theme and other musical compositions such as “Carpathia,” by William Owens, the traditional American folk song “Oh Shenandoah,” and “Set Me as a Seal,” by René Clausen.