Shining Moments in the Sea of Tech Abyss: Students Art in the Pandemic 
In the wake of the pandemic, online programming has stepped up to fill seemingly impossible roles in our lives. From school to social gatherings to live music, it’s hard not to feel disappointed by online options when only months ago if you wanted to hear live music, one merely had to duck into the nearest neighborhood bar or restaurant. 

Inspite of these deeply felt and far-reaching changes, I can say that in the last 6 months of full-time online teaching there have been some truly amazing moments of creativity among the students. Moments that remind me that no matter what the circumstances, there will always be art and where there is art, there is connection.  

Never in my 15 years of teaching have I seen so many children writing songs.  The collective switch to computers has opened a whole new world of creative possibilities. Programs such as Garageband, Soundtrap, and even Zoom, make recording and creating your own music more possible than ever before.  It’s been beautiful to watch students, who used to be rather self-conscious about their art, are now making and sharing music.  Perhaps in all the disruption, there’s a softening of perfectionism, with the understanding that everyone is doing the best they can, so our art doesn’t have to be perfect either. 

Kiddos who never once wanted to write a song, have started dabbling in Garageband and recording their own original compositions!  Without teacher or parent prompting, children are writing songs on their own and creating new tracks.

As I reflect on my own childhood, without Zoom, and heck without the Internet, I feel thankful the pandemic occurred in a time when technology has enabled us to stay connected and creative. One of our teachers, Chris Dingman, has been facilitating group songwriting, not by gathering a bunch of students on one zoom call, but instead by having each student additively compose music. So one student starts a song, then another student adds more, and another student, and so on.  So that up to 10 students have created a song together! 

Without a doubt, I know that these creations would not have happened without students working online. Yes technology can be frustrating, but there are still some unique opportunities for creativity and expression that can only occur in this rare and special moment in our collective.  And while perhaps practicing has shifted or routines are a challenge, what hasn’t changed is the inherent creative spirit that lives in every child and the joy and connection that music brings. 

Zaneta Sykes
Program Director