Arts & Culture

Being a Music Student Amid Pandemic

Drey DK, contributor
Photo taken on May 18, 2020 by Drey DK. Drey is standing in their living room posed with a guitar looking into the camera wearing a black shirt & red skirt.

I often think back to when I decided to pursue a Music Business degree at Augsburg. It wasn’t until I had been attending this school for at least a year and a half that I confirmed my major at all. I have come to find since making this decision that although it certainly feels like the most suitable direction for me, feelings of uncertainty remain. 

What were once feelings of not knowing exactly what I’ll do or want to do with this degree has now evolved into a deeper question: How will this industry even work by the time I graduate? Not to get pessimistic, but as someone who has spent a good portion of their young-adult lifetime attending and performing in shows, it is difficult for me to wrap my head around what that work will look like post-pandemic. Venues across the nation are closing, and many of those remaining are facing a lack of funding that could result in their own closure. 

There are no shortage of fields for musicians to go into. Performers, producers, sound engineers, teachers, therapists- these are all positions within this industry that you can earn a degree in. But COVID has impacted all of these fields and majors. As performers, we are now required to do much of our work online. We are no longer able to rehearse in large vocal ensembles safely, and so to make up for this we are remotely learning pieces individually and recording our parts over each other in smaller groups. This approach to choir has completely altered how we must listen, focus and work with one another. Music majors are taking lessons remotely in preparation for our juries and recitals as well. Although these can be performed in person, almost no one is actually allowed to be there aside from the performers. 

I can’t speak on behalf of every performer, but does anyone else experience an extra drive and motivation to learn or write a piece by knowing you’ll get to showcase it? Perform it? Share it? All in a real life setting? If you think about it, many of the most popular bands and artists right now either have to live stream or televise sets in order for people to see them. Touring and getting to perform for people is how the majority of artists make their money as well as how they get to genuinely and emotionally connect with people.

I encourage those who are missing live music and have financial resources to find an artist you like on a platform like Bandcamp and buy something from them. In addition to supporting artists, reach out to your representatives and express to them how much you value your local music venues. We are making it work for now, but if things continue to function like this, the music industry will never be the same.