West Bourbon Elementary: A Music Program Following COVID-19 Protocols

West Bourbon Elementary School Principal Vance Eden worked the soundboard, while WBE Music Teacher Rhonda Allen welcomes the audience to the spring program of kindergarten through third-grade students on May 3.

The music program for the performances.
Rhonda Allen has taught music for 39 years, with 30 of those at West Bourbon Elementary School in Uniontown.
“I teach pre-k through 6th-grade general music and junior high choir,” she said. “I also accompany the high school choir.”
Second-grade students enjoy their teachers Sheryl Fry and Brenda Gleason hamming it up during a performance.
But Monday’s kindergarten through third-grade spring music concert was not the normal spring concert at WBE.
It was held outside on the front porch of the school, with parents and the community invited to bring blankets or lawn chairs to enjoy the performances, because of the COVID 19 pandemic restrictions.
The audience brought lawn chairs and blankets to watch the performances.
The idea was born out of some recommendations and some experiences, Allen said.

“There were recommendations by the National Association of Music Education, that outside is a safer place to make music,” she said.



First-grade students perform.



Last fall the district had outside performances in the local park.



“We had an event held last fall in Uniontown City Park by the 4th and 5th grades, and the junior high and high school music and art students called Art in the Park,” Allen said.  “It was very successful.”



“And we knew, an outdoor venue would not require us to limit the audience for these young performers,” she said.  “An indoor program would be limited to four audience members per participant.”



At the end of each class performance, parents came to retrieve their students. They could then leave or stay for the entire concert.


So plans were made for the annual spring concert with fingers crossed and prayers to God for good weather.
“It was a delight to be able to have a spring program this year,” Allen said. ” At the beginning of the school year, performances seemed unlikely. We were very thankful that the rain held off!”
Third-grade students performed on the kazoo.


“I feel the outdoor venue was a success,” she said.  “Many seemed to enjoy the relaxed atmosphere as they watched the kids perform.”
Allen feels performing music is important.
“Performance skills are an important part of the elementary music curriculum,” she said.  “I was grateful to be able to teach those skills in this unprecedented year.”
Kindergarten students perform
Covid impact on Music Education
“A study done in the summer of 2020 revealed the amount of aerosol, how Covid is spread, created while singing or playing an instrument was significantly higher,” Allen said.  “Music education was deeply impacted by this discovery.  Social distancing, masks, and bell covers on the ends of instruments were some of the protocols followed.”
“Until late February, I traveled to each classroom, teaching from a cart,” she said.  “This changed my curriculum and the activities I normally used to teach music concepts.  It was different, but it was doable. Though it was challenging, I learned new skills and had the opportunity to discover new, and sometimes better, ways to teach music skills.”


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