Music offers solace during pandemic


Paige Zezulka / Clarion

The Orpheum on State Street reminds people to “Stay strong, stay well, stay home.”

Paige Zezulka, Staff Writer

In today’s world, music is as powerful as ever before. Madison College’s music department is making that clear by providing ways for students to continue practicing their passion in their homes.

Jamie Kember, a co-music director as well as music instructor at Madison College shares the need for music during this crucial time, “There is a lot to be anxious about. There is a lot to be worried and concerned about. But one of the best ways to keep yourself healthy physically and mentally is to have a sense of calm. And practicing music, finding a way to practice some type of art is one of the best things you can do.”

Kember co-directs the college’s music department alongside with Timothy Patterson. These two help make it possible for the performing arts ensembles to exist. The list includes, the college’s orchestra, choirs, ensemble band, the World Drumming ensemble and the jazz ensembles.

Recently, with the coronavirus among us, the department has gone through major transitions. Though, Kember has done his best to make this change positive with the help of the college’s resources.

“I’m just trying to put our Madison College’s resources to full use,” says the music instructor. “It’s been kind of fun and interesting.”

Resources that are made available through the college’s online library, such as Kanopy and Videos on Demand have assisted with this transition. Other sources such as Blackboard and the college’s partnership with YuJa, a video platform, have been a helping hand as well.

With it being Kember’s first time teaching courses online, he mentions how it’s important for him to create a proper learning experience for his students. Madison College has made this possible.

Kember directs the jazz ensembles at Madison College. He mentions how when the groups were meeting face-to-face each week prior to the pandemic that it was a special time for everyone. That time and space was created to “focus on making beautiful things together.”

He said that even though the community is living through a pandemic, away from classmates, instructors and the classroom itself, this space and time is vital to also create at home.

“Whether someone considers themselves a musician or not is kind of irrelevant. This is as an important time as ever for people to practice an art form at home of any kind,” Kember said.

The music teacher encourages creating art because it gives us a sense of focus, diversion, a strong connection and a time to reflect during this troubling time.

Though at this moment, the overall music community has been suffering. Kember, a trombonist who performs throughout the Midwest with about a 100 shows per year, discusses how he will most likely be affected financially due to this pandemic.

“For a gig musician, the good weather months are good money-making months,” shares Kember.

Since the pandemic is trailing into those warmer months, many musicians will be hit by the coronavirus, “Even in Madison, Wisconsin, it’s an industry,” he states.      

Despite the obstacles amongst a world of crisis, Kember and the Madison College music department are doing their part to spread the awareness of the importance of music.

“I’m personally most interested in encouraging people to practice music or practice an art form,” explains Kember, “we are all capable and we all have that in us in one shape or another…there is nothing better than practicing an art.”