Center for Musical Arts students have not seen their teachers live and in-person for the better part of a year. This is surreal to me, but even more amazing is the number of students who are continuing to study and practice virtually during this time. And new students continue to enroll weekly. I know intrinsically that music is vital to us as humans, but it’s my life’s work — I’ve spent the better part of two decades with this message at the forefront of what I do. Seeing and experiencing what’s happening musically during this unprecedented time has been heartbreaking — symphony orchestras with cancelled seasons, Broadway dark until 2021, our own Colorado Music Festival performing virtually last summer. It has also been uplifting: Center faculty porch “jams,” faculty member Carolyn Kuban doing “drive-by harpings” at senior residences, students taking up new instruments. And the student recitals. On Zoom!
This is how we make music now. Mostly online. Or practicing alone at home. Watching concerts on TV or online. It’s not optimal, of course. But what I don’t hear much of is complaining about it. This is the way things are now, and so many of us are grateful to share our work with others in creative new ways. I’m grateful – for every one of those students and for a faculty that has been agile in adjusting to the changing online landscape as well as the different needs of their students.
I’ve been wondering about the 1918 pandemic and how people adjusted back then. Online didn’t exist, and the shutdown — even though impactful — lasted weeks rather than months. People who could afford it purchased the new technology of phonograph players — called “Phonographs of a Soul” by one company, so that they could hear music in their homes. Then, as now, music is here to help us weather this next phase of shutdown. Writing in Making Music American: 1917 and the Transformation of Culture, E. Douglas Bomberger says, “The thing that was really heartening to me…is how much people appreciated music, and needed music, and loved music. It was something they couldn’t live without.” I see this every day more than a hundred years later. Despite everything, people want and need and love music. Of course it’s not a cure or a vaccine or something you can hoard from the grocery store. But music is a form of sustenance, of expression and connection that is perhaps more important at a time like this.
I’m grateful for this resilient community, and for the music we make together while we’re apart. Please take a moment to listen to two of our students beautifully express their experience with music (Jennifer Peralta | Jewell Emanuel). And this Thanksgiving, which will undoubtedly be very different for so many of us, I’m thankful for the incredible Colorado Music Festival & Center for Musical Arts leadership, staff, faculty, and students who make the work that we do so meaningful. I wish you a Thanksgiving playlist filled with the music that you love and the knowledge that we’ll get through this and back on stages and recital halls and studios in person once again.
Co-Founder, Education Director