While a year filled with the potent smell of disinfectant, daily temperature checks, additional break times and boundaries of space created a season of abnormal routines, Taylor University music department utilized these new normal procedures to allow for new ways to connect with others through music.
Assistant Professor of Music Reed Spencer and freshman Brayden Good gave insight into the changes of the music department including some of the interesting ways that the departments are making accommodations in order to play together again.
Both discussed the multitude of precautions the group put into practice in order to create a safe space to practice in again. Some of the new procedures included groups needing to leave the room during practice for ten minutes to allow for the air to clear out, which prevents retention of air in the room. An additional change for the orchestra included border between the flutes and other instruments to reduce transmission.
In a typical year, the members would be placed together based on section to develop confidence in their parts and later placed in mixed grouping. However, the group adapted to this change by spacing out throughout the recital hall, optimizing the space to yield the proper distance between singers. Though initially seeming bad, Spencer said these changes have yielded growth.
“In some ways, those are really bad things, and in other ways, they are opportunities for the Chorale members to gain independence and musicianship, to listen better, to find a level of competence, that hopefully will end in us being able to take our masks off someday and being at a higher level,” Spencer said.
Even with these physical boundaries of needing to keep 6 ft. away, this space allowed for the musicians to grow closer together through the principle of being physically sharing the same space again. With much of the past few months being filled with the musicians being separated, not allowing for as many opportunities to corporately practice and perform together, Good discussed how excited she is to connect with other musicians again to do the thing they deeply enjoy.
“I feel like even with all the regulations and stuff, we’re still able to bond through the music and the act of actually being together and playing music and getting to come up with creative ways to have concerts and get other people in the community and on campus involved in the music,” Good said.
Keeping these special circumstances in mind, these groups have navigated new ways to engage the community with music. The need for new arrangements caused the groups to find creative ways to perform. The groups scheduled performances at outside venues allowing for the venues to accommodate more audience members while remaining distant.
For example, because the semester will end early, programs such as Sing Noel will not happen this semester. However, they will be partnering with Indiana Wesleyan University’s Chorale program as well as an event with the Black Student Union.
While the canceling of the event made several students sad, it taught many individuals about the beauty of new changes and taught a great lesson about God’s plans.
“I’ve learned how little control I have over the future and how to plan for something with all my heart knowing that it may or may not happen,” Spencer said. “And we know that at any moment if things get bad, our life, our daily life, might change, but we are still going to plan for these things and work towards them knowing that the process is part of the joy.”