For students in the Jacobs School of Music, the circumstances of virtual schooling have brought distinct challenges that will continue into spring semester.
The restrictions on practicing and performing, two essential aspects of the music curriculum at IU, pose the greatest challenge, vocal studies senior Caroline Goodwin said.
“Opportunities to perform have been extremely limited this semester,” Goodwin said. “That has certainly affected my music education, as I’m in college for voice in great part to gain performance experience.”
Like other universities across the country, IU moved classes online in March. Students spent fall semester attending school in a hybrid format, with some classes happening in person and some online. The final three weeks of fall semester were in a completely virtual format and spring semester will start in the same way.
Abigail Fledderman, a junior trumpet player studying music education, said the best part of her major is making music with other people. But that part of her education remains uncertain until the COVID-19 vaccine is distributed.
“I still haven’t played in many ensembles,” Fledderman said. “I played in marching band, and it’s still cool that we could do that. This did take away opportunities for classical ensembles though, which stinks.”
Field experience is a requirement of a few core music education courses, Fledderman said. In a typical semester, this would entail going into an elementary or secondary school in the community to interact with students and have a supervised teaching experience, but students will have to continue to do this virtually.
“It can be difficult to keep the classroom in check over Zoom,” Fledderman said. “I teach lessons in my free time, but that’s also difficult. Sound is way worse through Zoom.”
Kearsen Erwin, a freshman studying oboe performance, said this is not how he had imagined his first year at IU.
“If you look at it in a negative light, I haven’t had any Jacobs School of Music ensemble experience,” Erwin said. “I haven’t been able to play in those operas or go to see ballets like I was so looking forward to in high school.”
Erwin said he is hoping for more IU-sanctioned opportunities for people to gather and make music together safely.
He also said he is hoping the Bloomington community will rally around a common goal this semester: getting through the last leg of the pandemic.
“This meaning no parties, no anti-maskers, no deniers and all supporting one another as we get through this as safely as possible,” Erwin said.
The approval and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines across the globe could be a signal of hope that Jacobs students will be able to perform and practice together. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Jan. 9 that live theater and music venues could reopen sometime in late fall of 2021 if the vaccine roll out is successful.
Goodwin is excited about this possibility.
“I would be thrilled if music venues could open this fall, as I’m sure any musician or patron would be,” Goodwin said. “It would mean that I could begin doing what I love again: performing and seeing performances.”
Senior Goodwin and freshman Erwin may be at opposite ends of their time studying at the Jacobs School of Music, but they share similar sentiments.
“It would mean a rekindling of art and togetherness,” Erwin said. “To me, that’s what music is really all about.”