The Quincy University Music Program is adapting to making music during the pandemic. While rehearsal spaces and ensembles might look different, students are still making music and performing. Fine Arts and Communication Division Chair, Dr. Christine Damm stated, “Music is a huge part of the lives and well-being of many students. We really missed performing music together last spring, so it was imperative that the music faculty research safe ways to rehearse and perform music.” The Quincy University Symphonic Band, Jazz Band, and Choirs are following spacing guidelines set forth in national research studies.
On the instrumental side of things, brass players are using bell coverings and students are wearing masks when not playing. Students are spaced at a minimum of six feet apart when rehearsing and performing. The QU Band room has been converted to accommodate seating students adequately spaced. While it has taken some getting used to, students are happy to have the chance to make music once again. Senior Music Education Major, Chris Barret, said, “Making music gives me the opportunity to bond with people and share something that has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember”. He goes on to say, “Since the pandemic, we have been pushed further apart as we socially distance to prevent the spread. Our shared interest in music is what keeps us motivated to do our best and continue to perform”.
The QU Choirs have also made many changes. The choirs were split into smaller ensembles to allow for proper spacing between vocalists. Students wear masks at all times while rehearsing and performing. Senior Aviation major, Courtney Crane, said, “Making music is important to me because it gives me a break after a long day. Singing with a mask is quite different because the sound doesn’t travel the same but you get used to it after a while.”
While concerts are not open to the public, students are still performing. Seating is limited and spaced. Each student is able to invite two guests to performances. Audience members are required to wear masks at all times. Rehearsing music and performing has given some sense of normalcy in this uncertain time and has allowed students to express themselves in an artistic way. Senior Music Education Major, Joshua Crowl, said “Music is the very essence of what I rely on every day. We may have to sit or stand six feet apart, but we are still blessed with being able to make wonderful music together. In fact, we have grown as musicians during this pandemic. We are focused on great intonation and listening across the band.”
Chamber ensembles are also rehearsing and performing. QU offers a variety of small performing ensembles like a saxophone quartet, clarinet trio, mixed woodwind trio, percussion ensemble, chamber choir and vocal jazz ensemble. These groups have had to get creative to find performance opportunities. Normally these small ensembles perform in high schools. Because of Covid restrictions, the groups had to find new venues. The chamber choir has performed several times for masses at the QU chapel. The woodwind chamber groups have performed socially distanced concerts for local nursing home residents. All of the chamber groups have also recorded music that was shared virtually on QU social media for special occasions like virtual homecoming, QU Discovery Days, graduation and Christmas celebrations.
While rehearsals and performances may look different, the excitement for performance and artistic expression is still alive and well at Quincy University. Music faculty and students look forward to the day when concerts can be open to the public. In the meantime, musicians will continue to mask up, spread out, and enjoy making music.