By CAPA JRC reporter Eileen Luo
In stressful times, enjoying one’s hobbies can bring a welcome sigh of relief from grim surroundings. Flour and yeast, for instance, have recently seen a rise in demand as baking becomes a pastime for many Americans. Yet baking is not the only pastime that people turn to these days, for music and the arts can bring color into one’s life as well.
Lucy Chen is one of the co-founders of Young Artists Music Society (YAMS), a group of accomplished, music-oriented students who traditionally perform at senior centers. With the advent of the coronavirus and subsequent measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus, however, such performances were impossible. After these performance cancellations, the group decided to begin a new music objective -- free online music lessons. These daily music lessons include a music theory course, a musical improvisation course, and a weekly masterclass, taught by YAMS student officers.
“Our main goal is to share our music with the community,” said Lucy. “A week or so into the coronavirus break, we decided… that we should still be doing something for [YAMS] members and staying active in the community, especially in this difficult and confusing time. So [we decided to host] online music lessons.”
The quarantine measures taken to limit the spread of the coronavirus may be restrictive, but it also provides an opportunity— not only for YAMS, which seeks to be active in spite of the quarantine-style measures, but also for those who no longer have as many extracurricular activities as before.
“I think [the officers and I] all enjoy teaching others about something that we're passionate about,” said Lucy, “And [music]’s something that they're exploring because… a lot of the students at this time don't have that much to do.”
Though they enjoy playing music and teaching others through these online lessons, YAMS leaders also faced quite a few challenges when they first started the classes.
“So one of the [first] challenges we had to face was knowing who is going to teach which class,” said Lucy. “Then, we had to organize lesson plans for each week. Sometimes it can be really tight on schedule because the classes would be one day apart, so we have only a few days to prepare… But we eventually overcame those [problems] just by getting used to the whole schedule and [receiving] student feedback.”
Even though they are not among those on the frontlines who put their lives at stake every day by just going to work, YAMS leaders still play a vital role in helping out the community during this pandemic. Their work may not directly save lives, but it brings hope in an unprecedented time of fear and confusion. While nurses, doctors, and researchers save lives from the coronavirus, groups such as YAMS save them from hopelessness and despair.
“I think that these kinds of relief efforts are also really important because during this time, [the pandemic] can make a lot of people confused or just not that happy,” said Lucy. “I think that [organizing] something like [these classes] is a great way to lift people's spirits and connect our community.”
This article was provided by Chinese American Parents Association Junior Reporter Club (CAPA JRC) with members who interviewed, audio recorded, wrote, translated, and video recorded. CAPA JRC has 19 Montgomery County middle to high school students. They have created a bilingual platform delivering news and serving the community.