Shared moments: FoCo musicians adapt to playing in pandemic

Kailey Pickering

As businesses rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the flow of live music remains absent from Fort Collins. Music has always been a link for people to come together and connect, especially in times of need. In a time when no one can gather to create these harmonies, musicians have been adapting to a new atmosphere.

Since quarantine, the picture of music in Fort Collins shifted. Some local bands have found new ways to create the music they love. 

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You create art you share with people, and they like it. That motivates you to make more.” -Ethan Christi, People in General drummer

A local band, People in General, collaborated with Sekai, a musician in Portugal. Google Drive has allowed them to share recordings across the world to create music. Matan Birnbaum, a member of People in General, explained that when he has an idea, he can piece a recording together and send it to Portugal.

“Even though we’re an ocean apart, we can still kind of create in real time,” Birnbaum said. 

While bands like People in General have been able to collaborate with other artists and stream a concert via Facebook, others have focused on different aspects of music creation. The Fort Collins band Lady Denim has taken this time to focus more on recording their music. As the band members focused on recording and creating music, their relationship strengthened.

“I think it made us all more dependable on each other emotionally and mentally,” Lady Denim band member Nick Lundeen said. “And I think it really brought us closer.”

As new breakthroughs surfaced for musicians, difficulties arose as well. Without a community to perform for and get feedback from, musicians face a challenge. 

“We take a lot of emotional support and validation from going to live shows,” said Abraham Dashnaw, member of People in General.

The lack of an audience not only adds to the difficulty of generating music, but also affects musicians’ creation processes.

“I found a lot of times I’m less motivated to play or create any form of music or art because, yeah, there’s a feedback loop,” said Ethan Christi, drummer for People in General. “You create art you share with people, and they like it. That motivates you to make more.”

The lack of an audience not only affected local bands creating music, but it also impacted students pursuing music. Cati Karr, a sophomore at Colorado State University, was pursuing a minor in music before the pandemic began. As she transitioned to online music classes and ensembles, she felt as if the art of creating music together had been taken away from her and her peers.

“What I enjoy most about music is playing it with a group of other people and being able to play it for other people and being able to create really nice sounds in a large group where everybody’s doing their own thing but working together at the same time,” Karr said.

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The loss of this aspect of performing has not only affected Karr but many other students pursuing music. While Karr has decided to step away from music as the pandemic continues, other students are struggling with the same absent aspects of music.

As the fall semester at CSU begins, music ensembles are trying to figure out what rehearsals and performances will look like. The choir will be gathering in small groups to rehearse while marching band has split rehearsals in half, practicing 6 feet apart without movement, according to students in the ensembles.

As the music venue shifts to adapt to our current crisis, every musician works to find their sound in whatever ways they can. While there are no live audiences, musicians are still creating music and generating hope and inspiration in a time when it is needed the most. 

“At the end of the day you know we’re not gonna give up on each other,” Nic Lubin from Lady Denim said. “We’re not gonna give up on this project.”

Kailey Pickering can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com or on Twitter @PickeringKailey.