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VC VOX POP | "What Are The Most Positive Outcomes of This Pandemic?"

The Violin Channel recently caught up with Ida Kavafian's Curtis Institute of Music studio class to find out...

This week, the 16 students took part in the “On My Own: The Power of Music to Transcend the Pandemic” studio class challenge.


Emma Meinrenken

Although this pandemic totally threw me off the path that I saw for myself this year, I find that there are many things that I can be grateful for.

I became much closer with my parents and my friends in Toronto. With the new found time that I had over the summer, I learned to drive, picked up photography, and explored the beauty of the ponds and forests near my home. I learned fun and exciting music that I would have never touched had I not had this time, and the pandemic also gave me the unique opportunity to slow down and work on my technique, away from the craziness of school, competitions, and festivals.

Finally, I adopted a cat, who has brought me a lot of joy during the tougher moments in the last few months.


Eric Tsai

Back in March, I was feeling quite overwhelmed and a bit at a loss as to what to do in my musical journey. School had just shut down and most of us had gone back home to complete the semester virtually. As somebody who gets a lot of inspiration from physically being around live music-making, I felt drained and discouraged. I was wondering how I would continue to make progress when it seemed like the music world as a whole had come to a grinding halt.

However, I believe that I sorely underestimated the potential for new discovery and exploration that was only unleashed in the ensuing months of relative solitude. Although I wasn’t able to hear my friends practicing around me day and night, I was able to take some time to step back and re-evaluate myself as an artist. I was able to work on some technical issues that had been bothering me for some time. I even started working on a whole new batch of repertoire that I had wanted to learn. Looking back now, I see that it was those few months of having “nothing to do” that really unleashed my creativity and caused me to be able to look at my musical journey from a new perspective. 

It is often said that we are first artists, then musicians, then violinists. In my case, I think that the personal experiences and emotional journey that I went through over the summer really changed my artistry and musicianship. There is still a long way to go in terms of my violin playing, but I’m happy to have walked through this process, and I look forward to seeing how the positive effects will continue to play out in the months to come!


Hana Chang

I’ve truly come to value the abundance of time during this pandemic. It’s given me the freedom to explore new things both within and outside of music, and it’s pushed me to find inspiration in different parts of my life and surroundings.

Practicing without the usual strict deadlines has been refreshing, and I’ve been taking the time to learn new repertoire and find fresh approaches to older pieces.

I’ve also had the time to discover new books and study some German and French. In the face of this pandemic, I find myself incredibly grateful to be healthy, spending this time with family, and staying connected online.


Cherry Choi Tung Yeung

The pandemic has affected us greatly. We are no longer able to go to school, perform, or eat in public like what we used to do. Staying at home and doing classes through Zoom has become our “new normal.” I have been reflecting on what the pandemic really means to me. I realized that even though it has changed all our lifestyles, there are still some positive outcomes during this difficult time.

One of the positive outcomes is that I get to spend more time with my family. When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, I went back to Hong Kong. I have been here for more than 6 months, which is the longest I have stayed home since 2015. Previously, I only get to spend less than 3 weeks at home before going to festivals. 

Also, I get to do a lot of things that I have always wanted to do, but never had the time during the regular school year. I am able to read more, paint, learn more repertoire, cook for my family, and recently, I started learning how to play the viola. I try to do as much as I can to stay motivated and get the most out of this time.


Emily Shehi

I’m very grateful for Ms. Kavafian and our studio for putting together this project and the collection of solo violin pieces. Live performance is irrefutably irreplaceable in its immediacy, and I cannot wait to attend concerts and play with others in front of an audience again.

The way this pandemic has been handled in the United States has been nothing short of terrible, and is nowhere close to being over. Despite this, I am optimistic about the future of performing arts to continue to guide and provide solace from the horrors of the political and personal storms that lie ahead.


Eunseo Lee

When I came back to my hometown in Korea, I thought it would be for just a short break. After the situation and pandemic got worse, I realized that it would be hard to go back to school. The first thing I worried about was my playing. What if I could not play chamber music or orchestra anymore? Or what if I could not play with piano accompaniment? That made me really frustrated. Usually, I am happy when I come back home, but I was full of worries and fears. Over time, I slowly began to find out what I really needed and what made me happy and positive.

Listening to my favorite music, reading books, cooking, and baking are the things I've invested my time and energy into while social distancing. I FaceTimed with my friends who are all in different places, but I feel we connected so much more because of this situation.

During this pandemic, I felt there were advantages and disadvantages. Sometimes there is frustration, worries, and anxiety but music really helps me a lot. Playing music, practicing my own music, and expressing myself makes me release stress. I'm really getting to know myself and digging into my music. 


Hannah Tam

During the pandemic, instead of joining various musical activities overseas as I usually do during the summer, I stayed home most of the time. I continue to treasure the time with my family as we enjoy every moment together.

Additionally, I have learned a lot of repertoire since March. I have studied and practiced a numbers of pieces in different styles that I never thought I would have enough time to finish.

Although I am still 15, the pandemic has taught me that we should not take our health for granted. I exercise every day and keep my diet balanced. I hope we can overcome the pandemic soon.


Haram Kim

The pandemic caused the world to panic, giving many of us anxious and vacant feelings throughout this time. However, this period actually motivated me to do things I could never do in regular life.

To start off, there were a number of activities I approached, such as improving my piano skills, studying some composing techniques, deeply analyzing pieces, and even trying out new cooking recipes.

This was an opportunity for me to realize the many things that existed around me that I often treated carelessly. These situations may vanish soon or come back, but nonetheless, we should try to make our time meaningful.


Jenny Jin

Although there are countless hardships from the pandemic, one positive aspect is that it brought people together differently than ever before. Fighting for the same cause gave us a common goal, something that we can all share. I think that’s a very rare and powerful thing.

For me personally, a positive outcome was that I realized the value of surrounding yourself with people you love. It reminded me, once again, to always be thankful for the people beside you.


Karisa Chiu

I have learned an incredible amount about myself during this pandemic, and I discovered that one of the most positive outcomes of it all is simply time. Time to reflect on things that were pushed aside during our regular busy lives, time with family, time to dedicate to health and fitness, time to focus on relationships.

With words such as “social-distancing” and “quarantine” being the norm these days, I am guilty of assuming that this will equal isolation and loneliness. In actuality, my relationships have only gotten stronger as the months pass by because we rely on each other to get through this.

With everything this pandemic has taken, it has given us something else: appreciation. More than anything, I miss sharing my music with others as well as hearing other artists perform. I know that when I get back on the stage, or sit in the audience of a concert hall, I will appreciate it more than ever before.


Lun Li

I feel privileged to say that my life seems normal. This crisis gives me all the time I need to make plans for my future. I finally have a chance to sit down and think through all the decisions that will potentially affect my trajectory. I also have explored my musicality; without the pressure from all the deadlines, I took the time to explore and reach out of my comfort zone repertoire wise, adjust different possibilities in my set-up, and challenge myself with energy demanding music.

Luckily I am still partially dependent on my family, so I don’t have any real responsibilities to take care of. I find that this is the perfect time for us to reflect on all the damages we’ve exerted. Hopefully, COVID is an end, not just the beginning of the variations.


Maya Buchanan

I often find myself feeling sort of trapped and caged in my life as a classical musician. It’s easy to become burnt out, especially at a time like this when I’m not able to collaborate and share music with others.

I decided to take this time to open myself up to new things and figure out what else I love to do, as opposed to just forcing myself to do something that I honestly wasn’t really enjoying. During the pandemic, I’ve been able to hone some other interests and found alternative, meaningful ways to express myself. I realized that just because I’m not good or innately skilled at something, that doesn’t mean I can’t or shouldn’t do it! 

I’ve really enjoyed drawing (more like scribbling) and singing to myself. I think that by diving into these other art forms that I’m not super comfortable with, my violin playing has really improved in a much more meaningful and important way than just playing more in tune. It’s been really liberating, and I’m genuinely finding a lot more joy in just playing and respecting music as opposed to constantly striving to be perfect!

I also think the pandemic has really forced all of us as classical musicians to be innovative in the ways we share ourselves and our music with others. I’ve been able to meet and work with some amazing musicians that I probably wouldn’t have crossed paths with otherwise. So yes, the pandemic has taken away a lot of amazing opportunities, but it has also presented me with a lot of cool projects like this one.


Michael Shaham

The pandemic made the world experience something no one alive has experienced before. I think there are some good outcomes.

To begin with, I obviously had more free time, with no concerts and no commitment to prepare new repertoire. I had the chance to “relearn” violin playing and go back to the basics with more depth.

More importantly, I think the pandemic can affect humanity in positive ways. After this crisis is over, I believe people will be kinder to each other and not take many things for granted.


Danny Jin

I’m sure the pandemic has been a hard time for everyone. To be honest, it has been a hard couple of months for me too. Originally, I found it difficult to try to think of something positive, but after some thought, some memories and positive outcomes came to mind.

One thing is that some of my relationships grew stronger. I was with friends for most of quarantine and we learned to cope with the pandemic as a group. I also had the time to think about life in general and ways in which I can improve not just as a musician, but as a person as well.


Jieon Park

I have learned a lot from this COVID-19 time. I had many difficulties taking lessons and learning because I couldn’t take classes face-to-face with my teachers, but it was a great chance to ask myself a lot of questions about how to express my music.

I made an effort to complete my new solo piece and I hope that people will be happy to hear my performance. My wish is that they will not be frustrated and have hope. Thank you for listening to my music.


Youjin Lee

Throughout this pandemic, I had to become more independent from my teacher, my colleagues and the school's facility (large rehearsal space, chamber music, practice space).

Of course, my studio remains very supportive, and I feel thankful that we could meet through Zoom, but it isn’t the same as in-person activity.

I find myself listening to what I see, hear and feel as musician and person in this world. And I believe that this circumstance will make me even stronger over time. Nonetheless, I can’t wait to see each other in person!


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