The sound of no music

Students and staff are reeling from the loss of ensembles

The band room in the music building sits empty, with chairs set six feet apart. Photo by: Benjamin Totten | Torch Photographer

Due to university set regulations to keep students and staff safe, many of the music ensembles are canceled.

Ferris announced that band and choral ensembles are not allowed to practice or have any performances. Five out of six ensembles fall under this category, the one exception being the West Central Chamber Orchestra (WCCO), consisting of strings.

Compared to wind ensembles, the string ensemble is allowed to meet and practice socially distanced because there is no saliva involved. Players just use their hands to create sound.

While there is still music in the halls of Ferris, it is a drastic change compared to last year.

Where has also been a drastic change of community for both staff and students. Band had become an outlet for everyone to fill their social endeavors and also combat the stress in their lives. Nowadays, hardly anyone comes by the music center. 

Dale Skornia, associate professor of music and director of the WCCO, says that the music center has been taken aback because of the absence of students playing since this past spring. 

“I’m going to paraphrase Ruth, our music center secretary, nobody’s here.” Skornia said “It’s just us.” 

Skornia also mentioned that staff have been making the decision to work remotely or have in-person classes, not involving wind instruments.

“I know one director doesn’t want to have ensembles until there is a vaccine, and the other one doesn’t think it’s safe” Skornia said.

Staff have been feeling down with the lack of music being played and communication with their student musicians, and they’re not alone. Students have been feeling the absence as well.

Victoria Sill, a medical lab science senior, is one student who will not be able to finish her university years as a member of the FSU Pep-band.

Sill says that she thought ensembles would be able to perform again this fall after the shutdown this past spring. However, after seeing that wouldn’t happen she says it has been a weird start to the semester.

“Not going to practice, any games on the weekend, or nothing. It’s so weird. Pretty quiet.” Sill said

The pep-band is most known for cheering on sports teams through musical chants, but they would also make small performances off campus throughout the community, including performances at local elementary schools. 

“In pep-band you get really involved, and it takes up a lot of your time,” Sill said “It’s a good free time activity.”

Sill says that she and many other students have been needing to find other outlets to replace pep-band as their gateway to relieving their stress, and it hasn’t been easy. 

Music has been a big stress reliever, and for musicians to not play has caused them to have more stress, feel as though they are missing out, and overall feel as though a part of them is missing. And many don’t touch their instruments as much anymore. 

Skornia had mentioned a flutist he had seen recently and how not having any ensembles has affected him.

“I had lunch with an adult band member,” Skornia said “He brought up flute-playing, because he had just bought a flute and he’s a good player. He was going to be a music major, and he said “I was so depressed. Part of it was the band because I just bought a flute. I wasn’t motivated for anything. I wish there would’ve been a way to take an online lesson.” 

Compared to band ensembles, chamber orchestra members are feeling better that they can meet in person and practice their instruments as a group. 

Many had doubts and worries for their ensemble meeting this past spring and summer, but spirits lifted for both students, community members, and directors when they were given the all clear to practice and have performances. 

While there still is one ensemble that is meeting, some are afraid that the other ensembles won’t be able to come back. Skornia believes the music center may lose them for good due to university strains. If this does occur, ricochets could be felt by those in the community.