Spring 2020 was a hectic time for students from elementary school to graduate school.
All of a sudden, learning was happening online. The switch from in-person to virtual was stressful for everyone, especially musicians. We rely so much on collaboration. I was finishing the spring semester of my freshman year when the pandemic struck, which made the transition to online classes terribly disorienting. As the semester carried on remotely, I struggled with lack of motivation, lax time management and isolation from friends.
Thankfully, these feelings didn’t last forever. As the College of Music continued hybrid in-person and remote learning this fall, I started to develop the skills necessary to make distance learning work for me. I have definitely struggled at times, but I eventually adapted to the new reality.
As we head into another remote semester for Spring 2021, here are some ideas for making the most of music study in a pandemic.
Using the time we have over Winter Break to prepare mentally and physically for the spring semester will make the transition much easier. Be sure to ask your professors what equipment will be necessary for a successful transition. For me last spring, this meant downloading Zoom, getting a high-quality microphone for my lessons and making sure I had a music stand. Some classes will require specialized equipment; the university can help students to acquire necessary materials for home.
It’s important to be organized all year, but online and hybrid classes require even more organization. It’s very easy to forget about due dates or studying when there is no one to remind you in person. My organization tools are a Google Calendar for events and a program called Notion for tasks, but any kind of planner or app works. I’ve found success in planning my days around my Zoom classes and working at home during the times that I would usually be working on campus for continuity (which actually helped my motivation issues!). For example, if I would usually practice at 8 a.m. on campus, then I practice at 8 a.m. at home. I keep track of due dates in my calendar and plan my work/study schedule ahead of time.
College is a great opportunity to make new friends, and leaving those friends last spring was really difficult. Isolation is easy to fall into and is something I’m still working to fight against. I did find some things that made me feel less alone: collaborating on recording projects, calling a group of friends every week or so, turning on my camera during Zoom classes and communicating with my favorite professors about my projects. Every person will have to figure out what makes them feel less alone. Fortunately we now have the advantage of some in-person time in our hybrid classes, but anticipating these emotional needs ahead of time will help us feel more comfortable if we return to fully remote learning.
Online classes, especially for us as music students, are tough. This spring will be our second time around with planned hybrid classes, so I think it will be more organized than it was this fall. But it’s OK to be nervous, and it’s OK to ask questions. Most of all, don’t be afraid to reach out if you’re struggling. There are people who want each one of us to succeed and resources to help us when things are hard. I know that we can do this.
Isabel Goodwin is a sophomore pursuing a Bachelor of Music in bassoon performance as well as a Bachelor of Music in composition. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Isabel loves creating art through music, visual art and videography.