Student musicians thrive online during coronavirus pandemic

Jafiya Birdling


Ben Cohen

Choir director Dwayne Dunn instructs students to use certain facial expressions through their masks. Many choir students are rehearsing in-person for the first time this month since March, 2020.

By Tony Racy, Co-Online Editor in Chief

The coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown presented several challenges for student musicians to creatively express themselves in and out of the classroom. However, some musicians thrive as online spaces become a medium for these musicians to share their music to a greater audience.

“I think music has been one of the major ways that students have found to cope with the isolation and restrictions of the pandemic,” choir director Dwayne Dunn said. “Being able to listen to music to enhance or change your mood; being able to write a song to express your feelings; being able to learn how to play a new instrument or perform a new music skill; These are all things that could be a positive response to the loneliness and sadness that were all around.”

Junior Elijah Gaines makes rap music, primarily focusing his soundcloud, $plit, as his main place of upload.

“I uploaded my first song ‘depression’ two years ago,” Gaines said. “I’ve been writing music and poetry or what not like forever. I wrote my first rhythmic rap or poem in elementary, it was fifth grade I believe.”

The pandemic presented Gaines an opportunity to focus more on his music.

“For me, I learned so much in basically a year,” Gaines said. “I’ve been working on my lyricism and just changing up how I do things like really kind of plotting how I execute things.”

Gaines has used this time to prepare for a future in music.

A pair of earbuds is tangled into the shape of a treble clef. (Henry Adams)

“After the pandemic, my plan is to make enough music to where I’m comfortable and then perform at the Grenada,” Gaines said. “You can pay to open people’s shows or you can pay to have your own venue, but if you pay to open someone’s show, there’s already people guaranteed to be there and it’ll just put you on even more.”

Junior Jassiem McNair also increased the amount of music he produces.

“I usually made about 1-2 beats a week before COVID started because I was trying to manage work, school, and social life,” McNair said. “I eventually started making 3-5 beats a week.”

McNair has received lots of support from his peers.

“My friends and classmates support me and they wanna help me,” McNair said. “They believe in me, and I believe in myself.”

Collaborating with other student musicians seeking to thrive in the pandemic has helped McNair gain traction himself.

Senior Mac Sanmiguel sought a way to make music outside of the LHS band after schools initially shut down.

“Since the pandemic, I’ve focused on making music by myself instead of in groups,” Sanmiguel said. “It’s been a fun experience to work more on composing my own songs.”

Sanmiguel created an instagram account, @macmusiclog, to upload videos of himself playing the piano for others to enjoy.

“I decided on instagram to create my music account because i feel like the ability to market and promote music on instagram is better than many other apps,” Sanmiguel said. “I’ve been experimenting with different ways of making music-related videos that I can post on my account for content. I usually record video with my phone and then edit it in various ways to upload.”

Like Gaines, Sanmiguel hopes that focusing on uploading his music online will help promote him for future venues.

“I wanted to have a place to document my progress throughout my career as a young musician,” Sanmiguel said. “I also thought it would be helpful to grow a following in case I ever want to host an event or anything else music related.”

LHS band director Mike Jones has helped guide Sanmiguel and others in developing their music talents for the past four years.

“There’s a lot of those students doing those same things,” Jones said. “If you can do things that you are into, you’re gonna do it.”

Regardless of what comes in the future for students who’ve devoted time and energy into music, experiences gained since coronavirus first began will always stick.

“Trying to hook into something you really like and you really want to do and just experimenting and letting yourself fail, that’s some pretty good education right there,” Jones said.