Music Man: Band Teacher Adam Brooks Adapts In Zoom Era  


LaToya Brooks

The Beat Goes On: Like all of his colleagues, music teacher and band director Adam Brooks has been forced to adapt to teaching his content across a digital platform. He’s found out that — no matter what — teaching, learning and playing must go on.

Virtual classes are just one of many issues that students and staff have been forced to adapt to in 2020. Some classes have felt more lax, others more difficult, and some have been a mix of both. The music department in particular has been faced with the challenge of learning — and keeping the music together — in this Zoom School era. 

Adam Brooks, North Atlanta’s band director and a dedicated music educator now in his 15th year at the school, is one who embodies the school’s true spirit. Moving from in-person instruction to Zoom School has been tough, Brooks said, yet he is constantly making sure that students in his classes continue to refine their musical skills. 

Zoom band typically follows the same structure as it would during physical classes, just through a different platform: students are let into the Zoom, they warm up their instruments individually for a few minutes, and they then jump into class. This usually consists of band theory, getting acclimated with online band softwares, and playing in groups — muted or unmuted. “It’s truly amazing how he pulls this all off,” said junior Natalia Perez, a member of the advanced band ensemble. “We all know what a tough situation this has been, so Mr. Brooks is awesome for always carrying us through it.” 

By all measurable standards, teaching music classes in an online platform is far from ideal. Brooks said he’s been pleased with how his band students have adapted to current circumstances. “The online sessions have been going well, even if the feeling of making live music cannot be duplicated,” he said. 

As a governing rule, Brooks always seeks to accentuate the positive and he’s doing the same in this current educational chapter. Teaching at home, he said, has meant spending considerably more time with his family. “With my crazy schedule, there can be times — when things are normal — that they don’t see much of me,” he said.  

Online learning is still a work in progress, and it’s hard to not reminisce on the way life used to be. One of the more devastating losses for the program is that of the marching band season. No football games, pep rallies, or in-person competitions — all of these have added up to holes in the lives of band members. And the same holds true for the dedicated teacher who leads them as band director. “I’ve been doing marching band since ninth grade, which is a pretty long time,” Brooks says. “This has all been a much-needed break for me, but I do feel sympathetic towards last year’s seniors and the current members who have lost out on the experience.”

As with almost all classes, students have yet to meet with their peers, which can lead to a strain on communication in the virtual classroom. Yet Brooks actively works to establish a friendly atmosphere where students can engage and feel connected. This is paramount to fostering a culture of trust in the group. “Having a sense of trust is important in our band community,” Brooks said. “So we do have those days when it’s important just to talk and laugh and reaffirm that in band, we are a family.”

Thankfully, the highs have outweighed the lows of online school for Brooks, his classes, and the future of the program. Once the return to school is confirmed and guidelines are set in place, the school’s band ensembles will be back in full throttle. But for now, persistence and working with what they have will make the band successful for this remote-learning chapter.