Learning to a new tune: How band will be taught virtually in Richmond Public Schools

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools are going virtual for the fall semester, but how will students who are taking band or orchestra as an elective learn and enhance their skills?

Whether your child is picking up their brass, woodwind or stringed instrument for the first time or the hundredth, they will learn how to play and grow virtually with their music directors in RPS.

Virtual is a new style of teaching for Richard Rebmann, the Binford Middle School Band Director. Rebmann said that during his 14-year tenure as a band instructor, he’s never had to do anything quite like this.

“It’s tough to see if a kid is sitting up straight, or hear if they’re perfectly in tune or if they’re using enough air,” he said.

Rebmann’s band class was disrupted in the spring due to the pandemic and now he is teaching musical compositions from his kitchen table.

“Then it just kind of got cut off and all these things that we were working towards, we didn’t get to finish,” Rebmann said, adding that music always finds a way to shine through. “Band is so much more than just playing the instrument. We are also going to be doing different activities like making our own music, learning about careers that can be in the music genre.”

New musical teaching resources are being used across RPS for virtual learning — like new music production applications that not only teach kids how to record music but also learn how to compose their own creations. That is something that excites Drew Miles, the Director of Bands at Huguenot High School.

“There are so many resources available online that we’re going to be able to use that we can explore,” Miles said. “Let’s let the kids learn how to produce, let’s let em learn how to engineer, let’s let em learn how to DJ. I think its gonna be a good opportunity for kids to be able to see the wide spectrum of musical careers that are out there for them.”

Kids will be able to learn the different types of jobs available within the field of music — from being an artist to learning the bounds of production and audio engineering. The provided software has the capability to help kids learn deeply on their own about the inner-workings of the music industry.

Teachers will also be able to get more one-on-one time with students over video calls, which is something they haven’t been able to do before in a normal classroom setting due to the amount of students and limited time frame.

“It’s just different. It’s just a different way [of learning].”

Richard Rebmann



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