OPINION: Support WSU music students during the pandemic

Reach out and help WSU students majoring in the arts



Of all the majors, music students may have been hit hardest by the coronavirus outbreak.


Of everyone affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, musicians and music students have been hit especially hard.

Sure, these times have been hard for students of any major, but music students have had to struggle to stay afloat in an environment where much of what they do is no longer possible. Almost every aspect of a music student’s life relies on gathering and working in groups. This includes rehearsing in ensembles, performing in concerts, and playing gigs at bars and restaurants.

With the move to online classes, music students saw a fundamental change in their education. Ensemble rehearsals were no more and music venues were closed. Then, with Governor Inslee’s stay-at-home order, every remaining concert of the semester was canceled.

“Not being able to perform in duets, trios, quartets and larger ensembles has been difficult,” said Dean Luethi, director of the WSU School of Music. “It’s also difficult for faculty to assess our students over distance.”

Music lessons were also moved to Zoom, a far cry from the face-to-face instruction so many students depend on to improve their playing. Much of the joy and spontaneity of making live music has been taken away, which leaves student musicians in less-than-ideal situations.

“This has been a noticeable drain on our students,” WSU Saxophone professor Horace Alexander Young said. “We lost the ability to maintain ensemble practices and performances at a critical time in the semester.”

In these times, it is important to realize how those in music have been affected and how we can help them.

Musicians who aren’t students have been struggling as well, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t still working. Across the globe, musicians of all genres have held virtual concerts, from Post Malone to John Fogerty. Bands like Radiohead and even Pink Floyd have posted old concerts for people to enjoy during quarantine.

The livelihood of musicians has been uprooted, and they are looking for support. Many musicians have options in their virtual concerts or livestreams where viewers can donate money to help the performers. This helps support musicians who might not have any other income at the moment.

Music plays an important role in our lives — it brings us together. When we go to concerts, we are united and share the joy of musical creativity. In these strange times, music is something that can bring us together and take our minds off of the coronavirus — even if just for a little bit.

As musicians support us, we can do our part to support them by sharing their art and spreading the word about any online events.

Youn said it will be important to continue this support even after the pandemic is over.

“Make a commitment now to go out and support live concerts when that part of our society resumes,” he said.

Luethi said supporting musicians is important not only financially but for their motivation as well.

“Your support could make the difference between someone who will continue to work to find excellence in their craft or someone that will succumb to thoughts of self-doubt and inadequacy,” Luethi said. “The music students of today become the performers we admire tomorrow.”

While the pandemic has produced a seemingly endless stream of negativity for musicians, there are some positives.

“Having gone through this, we will be better on the other side,” Young said. “The shared personal losses and hardships will become a common denominator between every student, faculty and staff member at WSU. The music that emerges from this time in our lives will reflect all of this.”

Let’s all work together to help musicians and ensure that they come back stronger than ever after the virus. Just simply watching these live concerts or making donations is the least we can do to help.