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Wade FitzGerald, 22-year-old UF music senior, plays “Milonga” by Ronald Barnes on the carillon in Century Tower. FitzGerald has played the piano since he was five and learned to play the carillon his sophomore year, when he enrolled in the UF Carillon Studio. “You get to learn an instrument,” he said about the studio program, “and you get to brag to people that you play one of the rarest instruments in the world.”

Zoe Stayman is worried the French horn skills she’s cultivated all her life will be lost to online classes. 

Stayman, 21, is just one of many UF School of Music students in the midst of transitioning to all online classes and trying to establish a sense of normalcy hundreds of miles away from her instruments at college.

“The point of it is to be playing,” the UF music education junior said.

UF typically offers students access to more than 200 musical instruments, said Angela Jonas, a UF administrative support assistant. But now, that resource has been temporarily suspended due to COVID-19 concerns.

Stayman, who is enrolled in mostly performance-based classes such as instrumental conducting and materials and symphonic band, said it’s been an immense challenge to transition online. 

Although each student still receives private lessons with their instructors over Zoom, she said her 70-person ensemble has been one of the most difficult classes to access online, as it relies on collaboration with other classmates.

Over video, the program can detect some music as background noise; therefore, some of her peers’ music is drowned out, especially with the larger classes.

On the other hand, Sara Daniels said her greatest challenge with online classes is not having a dedicated space to rehearse. While she was accustomed to using rehearsal halls or reserved practice rooms offered by the music school, she now has adapted to cautiously practicing in her apartment to avoid a noise complaint. 

Daniels, a 20-year-old UF music performance and business sophomore, said that most of the music courses are auditory-based. But Zoom, the program her class uses to meet virtually, often cuts out audio that it detects as background noise, causing her voice to be filtered out in her sight-singing class, which is where she reads and performs new voice pieces, she said. 

Daniels said she already misses her weekly live performances with her euphonium, which is similar to a small tuba, ensemble in front of Century Tower, which has since been temporarily disbanded due to the challenges of coordinating the tempo with an online stream. 

She said she longs for the feeling that comes with performing live and seeing smiling spectators pass by.

However, Daniels recognizes that her instructors are prioritizing their students’ education in order to make the shift as seamless as they can. For this, she expressed her gratitude for them.  

“They are the most personally on our side with this, but it's hard to fit a piano, chalkboard and teacher in the frame of a webcam,” Daniels said. 

Kevin Casseday, a UF bass lecturer, said his biggest concern right now is for the students’ health and their families.

He hopes his students can turn to their love for music during this time of uncertainty, and urges students who are fortunate enough to have their own instruments to allow time for themselves to practice. 

“Even if it's just an hour, make that time for yourself and take that break,” Casseday said.