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Art majors adapt to the pandemic moving into the new semester

DTH Photo Illustration. UNC art majors go into the Spring semester wondering how they will meet graduation requirements when much of their work is done in collaboration with their peers, which is not an option right now.

Despite obstacles created by the pandemic, performance arts students are optimistic going into the spring semester as professors adjust to online learning. 

The performing arts rely on community spaces – especially studios, classrooms and theaters. With social distancing guidelines, these spaces remain limited, even as many classes have shifted to remote learning for the third semester in a row.

David Green, a UNC junior studying music, cherishes the in-person ensemble classes he was able to take during pre-pandemic times.

“I had to go out of my way to find classes that I could actually take for my requirements,” Green said. “Getting ready for a concert and preparing for a concert is what the class is really all about, so while you’re getting the credit for it, you’re really not getting the full experience."

Madeline Litty, a first-year drama student at UNC, felt disappointed by the pandemic putting a pause on in-person interaction in her classes. 

“I’m a bit of a worrier,” Litty said. “It’s frustrating for me, and I’m sure for a lot of people in the dramatic arts major. Obviously, a core part of education as an actor is being in the space and acting and actually putting shows on.”

Green explained that professors have been forced to alter course material because it's unsafe to perform. He is taking Music 111 this semester, which is typically a group voice lesson.

“Music 111 is usually something collaborative, but this semester my teacher is teaching an improvisation class instead,” Green said. “And it’s not the same thing, but she’s making adjustments so we can still have a productive semester.” 

New skills develop as professors adapt to online learning. For example, music majors rely on splicing together two separate recordings to form digital duets.

“That’s been pretty popular,” Green said. “While it’s not the same as collaborating with someone, it is pretty worthwhile and is a skill in its own right.” 

Sophomore studio art student Maria Bottom said she is embracing this time to take general education classes since her major classes have been postponed. She remains hopeful that the University will return to in-person classes soon.

Bottom has been enjoying at-home learning since she is able to create art in the privacy of her home while still being able to socialize.

“I became friends with a lot of people in the class,” Bottom said. “I feel like through Zoom we were still able to bond with each other.”

The three students agreed that the secret to online success is having a professor that is engaging and flexible. 

“I had professor Jacqueline Lawton,” Litty said. “I loved her because she made the Zoom class feel as genuine as she could without us being there in person, which would have been better. She really did a great job at making everyone feel comfortable, welcome, and heard.”

Moving forward, students remain cautiously optimistic. 

“There’s definitely two sides to it and there’s stuff that sucks, but there’s ways to spin it and make it more positive,” Litty said. “There’s not much else you can do in these types of scenarios."

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