By Irina Rusanova
Classes have resumed on campus for the fall 2020 semester, and among the many changes that have taken place is the relocation of music classes online. Issues with moving online include voice lags, location issues, and other discomforts.
Two students have commented on their experiences with music courses this semester. Briana Huff, junior music and biology major, is currently attending a sight singing and reading course, sessions with the Saint Vincent Singers, and independent voice lessons. She said that SVC has requested that music-related courses take place online. Most of Huff’s music courses take place once a week, but her sight-singing course takes place three times a week.
“All assignments are done through online by the teachers creating a recording for us to practice and repeat back as our coursework,” Huff explained. “We record ourselves singing a certain piece, then once submitted, we get feedback on the work.”
Kendra Smithbauer, junior marketing major, is enrolled in a music history course that has been allowed to continue in the classroom because it only has six members. Her individual voice lessons, however, have been moved online.
“The most difficult aspect of holding voice lessons online is the lag that comes from a video call. It is difficult to get a clear tone and sound over a laptop,” Smithbauer said.
Huff agrees that going online for voice lessons has made hearing herself sing difficult due to lag. She also experiences issues with finding a suitable place to sing.
“Being in my room singing makes me really self-conscious about people hearing me. I never want to be a bother to people in their rooms who are trying to sleep or study,” Huff noted.
Despite practice rooms being generally available to students, Huff finds that they are not helpful for voice lessons. The hour of time allowed in the rooms is not sufficient and the requirement to wear masks at all times produces a muffled recording.
Smithbauer emphasized that in-class voice lessons are more efficient than online ones.
“There is no educational benefit that comes from holding music classes and lessons online. I find that it loses the personal connection that is so crucial for character development,” she stated.
Smithbauer also misses face-to-face communication with her instructors.
“As grateful as I am to have the opportunity at all to have these classes, it breaks my heart that I am not able to get the full experience that is possible from these incredible teachers that have so much for me to learn,” Smithbauer added.
Huff similarly reminisces on personal interactions with professors.
“I do love to sing with and for people, even with me being a little shy. It brought a lot of peace to my mind and being behind [a] computer screen kind of takes some of that away,” she said.
Despite these setbacks, Huff continues thinking positively, saying that she will improve and learn from the new experience. There are not many issues with communication, which is another plus.
“No matter what, I enjoy going to class to see my classmates, even the ones that are commuters or are taking online classes only this semester,” she noted, following up with another positive outlook:
“I really hope in the Spring semester we can go back to personal lessons with more eased restrictions. In these times, it’s very unknown what will happen in the future. The only thing that I can personally do is keep the most positive attitude for myself and others, and no matter what, I’ll keep singing till I can’t sing no more.”