Making Art, Together
This Monday saw the first day of in-person learning for many of Furman’s second- and third-year students, who have been studying remotely since the beginning of the semester. Despite being masked and socially-distanced, there was an undeniable energy in the halls as students embarked on their first day of in-person instruction. A few sophomore and junior music majors lent their voices in describing their favorite things about returning to Furman.
Many students expressed that they were excited to engage in collaboration with classmates and instructors again. Sophomore vocalist Kaitlyn Applewhite stated that the best thing about returning to musical studies on campus was being able to sing with a live accompanist. During the past month when they have been studying remotely, singers and other performers had to rely on recorded piano accompaniment to practice and perform. Sophomores Alyssa Gibbs and Clinton Washington both expressed excitement to participate in larger ensembles again.
Other students were most happy to simply return to campus and make use of Furman’s facilities and instruments. Another sophomore vocalist, Libby Noll, stated that one of her favorite things about returning to campus is being able to study in the Maxwell Music Library. Sophomore Cabot Fowler, another percussionist, commented, “Being at home, I didn’t have access to timpani and marimba, so it’s nice to have those again.” In addition to performing, Gibbs finds that she loves simply being able to see Furman’s campus every day.
Because Furman’s music majors are accustomed to seeing each other every day either in classes or rehearsal, becoming isolated by the campus shutdown in March was jarring for many. Gibbs and Noll both expressed great excitement in reconnecting with their friends. Noll shared that for her, another benefit of being back on campus was “seeing friends who [she] didn’t stay in contact with over quarantine.” Junior voice major Wallis Lucas summarized it best by saying that she is most happy to be “making art together” again.
Needless to say, campus life for these students has dramatically changed. Accompanists must now collaborate with singers from behind plastic screens, and all ensemble rehearsals must be socially-distanced, with some taking place outside the music building in tents. Studying and socializing in the music library, once a common space for music students to gather, functions very differently now, with reduced hours and socially-distanced seating. Yet despite these unprecedented circumstances, music students are looking on the bright side. Even amid numerous health and safety measures and behind masks, they have an overwhelming sense of joy in returning to an environment that fosters both immense creativity and deep friendship.