Singing the blues: HutchCC Fine Arts students miss performing

By Jared Shuff / Campus Editor

In this time of continuing uncertainty and mass cancellations, there has been a ton of coverage on the end of seasons for student-athletes across the nation. Something that has received less coverage is the effects COVID-19 has had on the fine arts.

Broadway has shut down, tours and performances have been canceled or postponed, and students involved in the arts have been left in the dust.

At Hutchinson Community College, some students feel as though they’ve lost a part of themselves because of this.

Sage Williams, a Hutchinson sophomore, has felt the impact profoundly. As a music major, a large part of her education involves recital, concert and festival performances. All of those have come to a halt, leaving her academic future up in the air. 

“(It’s) very frustrating to me as a student currently, because that’s what I’m here to do and I can’t do that right now,” Willams said about the cancellations.

She plans to keep her voice in shape with practice but does not feel prepared to finish classes, such as music theory, online.

“I purposely did not choose to take online classes … because I like being in class, interacting with my peers and my teacher, face-to-face,” Williams said.

Paige Staggs, a Buhler freshman, opened up about the changes taking place for wind symphony, concert jazz band and pep band.

“Since the whole tournament got canceled, pep band is over. Concert jazz still had a Wichita State Jazz Festival to go to and a concert left,” Staggs said. “We had so many charts worked up and many we never got to play.”

Staggs said that there is the possibility of recording individual parts and piecing them together virtually, as well as the possibility of virtual sectionals, but it’s not the same as performing as a whole with your peers.

“Most of my friends I’ve made in college are because of band,” Staggs said. “I’ve gained so many life lessons from being involved in the arts and made so many memories.”

Williams is a firm believer in music as a unifying power. With each note performed, an illicit emotional response is provoked.

“I’ve always believed that music is the universal language, and the most emotionally manipulative artistic medium,” Williams said. “I want to be able to create those emotions through my music, so I chose to make it a part of my life and career path.”

Both Williams and Staggs have been impacted by the fine arts throughout their lives, as have most who are involved in the fine arts, be it music, theater, art, or any other medium.

Concerning the sudden isolation, both are still learning how to cope.

“This whole situation has been pretty hard on me,” Williams said. “I feel like I’m missing out on what was left of my time at (HutchCC) and the time I could have spent with the wonderful people I met in my ensembles at school.”

Williams is a member of Badinage, one of the two vocal jazz ensembles at HutchCC. Due to the spread of the coronavirus, both of the festivals they planned on attending were canceled, and it is unlikely the group will be able to reconvene for the rest of the semester.

“I don’t think I’ve completely healed to a level where I’m OK and can accept everything that has happened, but I’ve been trying my best to fill my time and keep myself busy,” Williams said.

Staggs is dealing with the sudden increase in free time as well, along with the loss of new relationships.

“It’s hard to not hang out with friends, and it’s really sad to see everyone leaving and going back home,” Staggs said.

While things may seem bleak at the moment, both students wanted to end on a positive note, sharing some personal advice on the situation at hand.

“It’s easy to get in a slump and feel sorry for yourself, but you can always control your outlook and attitude towards a situation,” Staggs said. “Allow this whole deal to help you appreciate everything that’s around you.”

“I’m looking forward to moving past this in time,” Williams said. “Even though it seems somewhat bleak in the moment, I have to hold onto my hope that it will get better.”

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