The coronavirus pandemic made the school year difficult for most students, but presented distinct challenges for those in the Jacobs School of Music. Core parts of their studies — performance and composition — became nearly impossible to do safely or collaboratively.
Students like Marinna Charmichael found ways to adapt. Carmichael performed her first recital in Recital Hall as a graduate student pursuing a master’s in historical performance with a focus in voice in May.
“It was really rewarding to be able to show the other people in my department what I’ve been doing,” Carmichael said.
Carmichael said the pandemic didn’t stop her or her peers from performing. She feels more prepared to do another recital in future, and she said she is happy she has finished her first year of graduate school. She said she hopes to be able to invite a larger number of accompanists and her family for her next recital.
“It highlighted for everyone how important music is to us and how it is a big deal to be able to share with each other,” Carmichael said. “It made us value it more.”
While some students conducted performances through Zoom or limited attendance in-person events, students like senior Sammy Haig forged different routes. Haig, a student in jazz trumpet performance, presented his recital in the form of six music videos in April.
The music Haig performed in the videos came from his EP, “Cucumber,” which he recorded over the course of the year. He worked with more than 70 musicians for the project, none of whom performed in the same room.
“I thought this could be a great project because the sky was the limit,” Haig said. “I didn’t have to operate within the restrictions of COVID and approach COVID for everything that it gives us rather than everything it takes away.”
Haig said the EP is a reflection of the hardships he faced and emotional journey during the pandemic. He said it is a celebration of his time at IU and a farewell.
Haig plans to release the songs as an EP May 28. He said he never thought he would be able to write his own music until this year and he hopes to write more in the future after graduation. He wants to break out of the standard forms of jazz that he studied, he said.
Liz Culpepper, a Ph.D. student in vocal performance, said adjusting to virtual performance formats might open doors in the future. She performed her final recital, titled the “Magical Menagerie Tour,” in May at First Christian Church with a small audience of friends and instructors.
After acclimating to rehearsing virtually for future performances, she said she could now work with coaches across the country using technology like Zoom.
Culpepper said she had been working on this recital for the last two years after it was postponed twice. She said she is happy she was able to showcase her years of study in vocal performance in her recital.
Culpepper said she is proud music students persevered throughout the year by adjusting their rehearsal times and methods.
“I think we did the best that we could in the situation,” Culpepper said. “We haven’t let it stop us from creating music. It’s important for us as musicians and singers because that’s our whole life.”