Orchestra students encouraged to practice at home

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BISMARCK, N.D. - When students left school over a week ago, they never imagined they wouldn't be back for weeks, or at all. Schools have been working to get computers as well as band and orchestra instruments to kids, without letting them into the school buildings.

Two elementary orchestra teachers in Bismarck Public Schools picked up their students' forgotten instruments and worked hard to get them to kids. They hope getting those instruments into their young musicians' hands will help them find the bright side in the coronavirus pandemic.

Videos like these are music to the ears of orchestra teachers Rob Peske and Ross Baumgartner. After making sure their orchestra students had their instruments they asked their parents to send videos of the kids playing. They came through, big time.

“As teachers we care a lot about what our students are leaning. We want them to develop and grow. This gave them the tools to do that,” explained Rob Peske, an elementary orchestra teacher for Bismarck Public Schools.

In this case, those tools happen to have strings. As they brainstorm how they can teach online they encourage students to just play.

“Anything that gets kids playing and enjoying their instrument. They might be searching for tunes online, or picking things up by ear,” said Ross Baumgardner, an elementary orchestra teacher for Bismarck Public Schools.

Because no matter what song they play, they say music can be healing.

“We have a lot of uncertainty. Music is there for you and is a great tool to use no matter what you're feeling, whether that’s happiness, sadness, fear, excitement. There's a song for everything,” said Peske.

Proof of the power of music.

Peske is hopeful kids will take some time while they don't have so many other activities to invest in their music. He says this can be a time of real growth for musicians.