By Cam Alsbrook
Over the course of Fall 2020, the Music Department has had to make extensive changes to how students do coursework and practice work.
Dr. Gregory Hoepfner, one of the department professors, said the distancing for vocal education classes is larger than guideline suggestions, alongside the mask and other policies in place.
“Following the university guidelines, we’re all in masks,” Hoepfner said. “Desks are spaced apart per instructions.
We stay apart from each other as much as possible. Voice lessons are especially problematic since we do not have them in our offices anymore.
We find larger rooms, carry the books to them, keep the students 12 feet or more away from us while they sing and conduct the lesson with a lot more space.” Senior Khalil Cabrera- Tosado said that classes have acclimated to the challenges of COVID-19.
“For obvious reasons, I have had to get used to singing into a mask,” Tosado said.
“At first, being honest, it was uncomfortable, but thanks to people out there with smart ideas, we have had innovations for our masks in order for us to sing more comfortably.”
According to Dr. Hyunsoon Whang of the Music Department, students, faculty and staff are following safety protocols, and Physical Facilities contributed mobile plexiglass stands to place between students.
“Students are asked to wash their hands right before their piano lessons,” Whang said. “We check temperature and wear masks during lessons. We feel pretty safe and are thankful to have lessons in person.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has birthed COVID-19 inspired music pieces and transformed the music production industry.
Tosado highlights the music department for contributing to this shift and said that produced pieces try to restore hope.
“I have noticed that each song that was composed or expressed through the COVID-19 pandemic was to serve as an uplifting factor for everyone to find
the hope that they thought would never come back,” Tosado said. “Some of the musicians that have been inspired by the Pandemic to create are actually faculty members of the Music Department, Dr. J.D. Little and Dr. Gregory Hoepfner. These two gentlemen phenomenally create pieces.”
Hoepfner said they think not enough people recognize the changes to music that were required to happen to accommodate the pandemic.
“I feel sad,” Hoepfner said. “I’m guessing many people don’t realize that the songs sound good because of the editing that takes place after the recording.
There is no way to have multiple people performing together in sync with today’s internet speeds. Everything must be recorded separately, and then edited together to work. It’s interesting but no substitute for live work.”
For students struggling to deal with the pandemic, mental health needs to be nurtured by talking with others and seeking professional help, Whang said.
“If we all practice good hygiene, social distancing and keep our masks on, we will minimize the risk of being infected or infecting others,” Whang said. “It is challenging but hang in there, don’t lose sight and keep the faith. This shall too pass. Be good to yourself and be considerate to others.”
Tosado wishes well to those who have lost loved ones during the pandemic, and to not lose hope for a better tomorrow.
“Even though things will never be the same and change will always be uncomfortable life will continue,” Tosado said.
“Life can be just as fun and as entertaining as you start looking at this pandemic in another perspective. Masks are horrible, social distancing
is horrible, but hope is still there for a better tomorrow, love is still there to express to everyone, joy is still there when you feel discouraged. To the ones that have lost a loved one to the virus, my deepest condolences and my prayers go to you, also with the same urge to find joy and hope again, I hope
you find peace.”
The Music Department lists events on the Cameron calendar or in the music office for students to stay informed about upcoming events with COVID-19 regulations in place, of course.
Hoepfner said, ideally, if things go well before next spring, the department may have a broadway musical planned for Spring 2021.
Otherwise, Whang said that for future students looking back on this period of the COVID-19 pandemic to note that the university has done its best to persevere alongside the leadership of President John McArthur and Vice President Dr. Ronna Vanderslice.
Hoepfner wishes that people who are not taking the pandemic seriously would begin to do so.
“Anyone that believes that this is a real pandemic and that certain guidelines need to be followed is doing what is needed,” Hoepfner said. “The others are just ignoring it as much as possible because of ‘personal freedoms’ and no amount of my begging is going to change their minds. “
Tosado wants people to make historical note of the COVID-19 pandemic for what it is a chance to learn.
“To the future students of Cameron, this wasn’t just uncomfortable to the students,” Tosado said. “The faculty and staff have made sure to run the extra mile to keep themselves safe as well as keep the joy of education free-roam in this campus. Look back at this moment as a reference. What happened in the past can only stay in the past, what happens in the future is up to you and how you view your journey.”