Pandemic imposes sounds of silence at Humber

by | Mar 10, 2020 | A&E, Lakeshore

John Grant, Arts and Entertainment Reporter

Humber’s Lakeshore campus hosted its last music showcase March 6 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, silencing a campus that radiated music.

“The last few final recital concerts have had to be moved to the fall because it was impossible to do them in the current environment,“ said Head of the Drums department Mark Kelso.

The pandemic has been at the forefront of every story in the news cycle since late 2019, and it has now entered Canada, closing down non-essential businesses and schools.

And that means Humber’s thriving music program is postponed until further notice. However, teachers have been doing their best to ensure all students will be helped during this time.

Mark Kelso giving a drum demonstration at the Lakeshore campus for his students on Feb. 5, 2020. (John Grant)

Kelso has been trying to work around these issues that are of great concern. He was also set to attend the Juno Awards in Saskatoon this year, but the event was cancelled due to the pandemic.

“It’s been incredibly difficult, especially in the percussion department,” Kelso said. “Many students no longer have access to drums and percussion equipment in the school, so they have no gear to play on.

“We are frantically trying to work around these issues. The fact that student response time has been slow is also hindering things,” he said.

The music teachers also had to adjust their normal schedule, so the students could be able to submit their music and get graded.

“Well, we’ve switched to having many live playing tests be videotaped and sent online with concessions being made to students without gear. Group assignments have had to be changed completely to different assignments,” Kelso said.

First-year student and percussion player Roshane Wright echoed those concerns.

“The biggest challenge I would say is not having access to the school’s musical equipment to practice as a few other students, and I don’t own instruments personally that the school usually provided,” Wright said.

First-year Jazz student James Griffith, who lives in Alberta, had to leave Toronto after hearing about the closures of all schools, including Humber.

He feels his education has been compromised because of COVID-19, but he appreciates all the support from his teachers.

“My education has been compromised,” Griffith said. “And don’t get me wrong, the faculty are amazing, they’re great in every single aspect, but the main thing that’s really a drag is not being able to collaborate with my fellow musicians.”

The music program at Humber’s Lakeshore campus showed how tight knit of a group they are during these trying times. Thanks to social media, vocalist Eliana Parker has been able to keep contact with her peers.

“We’re all pretty much in contact with each other, which is great because I’m happy that we live in like the age of social media and FaceTime,” Parker said.

Griffith said the events unfolding reveal relationships aren’t just based on playing music.

“You make an actual relationship with these people, and you make bonds, and you make connections,” he said.