Offered by The Massachusetts Music Educators’ Association (MMEA), the Senior Districts festival has always been a way for students to receive feedback in an official environment and collaborate with musicians from the Northeast district. However, like many other organized events, it became necessary to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. To do so, they announced that the  2020-2021 Senior Districts audition and festival would be completely remote to accommodate for the health and safety of participating students. 

The modified audition process now allows students to record their performance, rather than performing live in front of judges.  

“The new audition process will affect some individuals while not others. Some of them are not used to playing in front of the camera. It definitely can have an effect on them psychologically, which is understandable,” said Dr. Sergei Khanukaev, orchestra director at the high school.

Students have had mixed reactions regarding the effect of the shift to online had on their performance during their audition. For some students, virtual auditions have added a new level of stress, making the experience different from past Senior District Festivals. 

“One thing that I didn’t expect to encounter was the stress from the auditions,” said Robin Lee ’23. “I thought that moving online would make things easier because you would be able to take as many recordings as you want until you get the right one. But there was a lot of self-pressure coming from the idea that you have to keep making recordings to get the perfect one.” 

Students also felt that they were missing out on several elements that they would get with live auditions. 

“There are definitely good aspects of in-person auditions that we missed this year. We no longer get to socialize with friends from other schools or even play with them,” said Jeremy Kim ’23.

With the ongoing pandemic, finding motivation to practice has been challenging for some students.

“I think online auditions took away the stress. However, this is not always good since when preparing for something, one must always have some sort of motivation,” said Kim. 

Even though the experience has been significantly different due to the shift online, at its core, Senior Districts have remained as a way for students to work together, learn, and socialize in a new environment. 

“[Through Senior Districts] students are able to have new experiences, prepare to work with each other, and learn how to adapt to a foreign environment in their new ensemble,” said Khanukaev.

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