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Opinion: Senior music major salvages loss of experiences following transition to virtual classes

Digitally edited recordings unable to replicate the feeling of in-person performances

Graphic by Noah Gutierrez

This semester was unfulfilled in many areas, and thanks to COVID-19, the Department of Music missed out on many things we had planned, including visits by guest artist Ari Herstand, recital performances, and a major choir tour in New York and Washington. 

But even though I’m graduating soon, I’m content with the fact that classes are still happening online and that I get to see my professors and peers from a distance. There are some benefits to online classes, such as not having to drive to campus and spending money on gas every week. I finish an online class and guess what? I am already home!

However, not all courses I’m taking were salvaged: the Rollins College Choir and other ensembles had to cancel their activities because it is impossible for large groups of people to sing or play at the same time on WebEx. 

Instead, the department came up with plans to get around these new challenges. For example, choir members will record themselves singing one song individually, and professors will edit all of the tracks together. This is, of course, noble, but it’s not the same as doing the actual choir rehearsal.

Many important details are simply lost when processed digitally. Our available technology hasn’t advanced enough to where it feels like you are in the same room with other players. Music needs to exist in a physical reality where intuition, change, and synchronized concentration can take place in order to achieve the dignity it deserves.

One of the greatest moments of being a musician happens when, after practicing or composing, we validate our efforts a step further by performing. Although playing music by yourself can be rewarding, it can feel solitary after a while. I have found that I am more motivated to practice if I know there is a performance coming up. After all, in the words of the philosopher George Berkeley, “to be is to be perceived.” 

As musicians, we want to share our creations with others, especially when those people are important to us. Unfortunately, there will be less sharing than we normally do this semester, but at least by staying away from each other physically, we help flatten the curve of COVID-19 and save lives.

I have experienced great things while participating in music groups this semester with other Rollins students. During a choir tour around Florida, I had the opportunity to accompany the choir with my guitar as they sang. At another time with an acoustic ensemble, I recorded my own original composition at Full Sail University. I will never forget it. I feel at peace gathering my wins and calling it a day.

It is not the end for me at Rollins, and I feel welcomed by my professors and peers to be here. Even as I graduate this semester, I will come back and keep sharing music with all of them. 

I had the honor of learning from such virtuous music faculty, and every one of them is a microcosm of insight, knowledge, and kindness.

I had hoped that I would have had a normal graduation ceremony to celebrate this episode of my life at Rollins. I looked forward to that day when I would finally give closure to a few years of struggle and hard work, when I would walk to the stage and accept the symbolic summation of all my efforts. 

But I know that it is all okay because as I finish my education at Rollins, I know that I learned to be a better person. That is what matters. I know what I accomplished here. 

Fiat Lux.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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