How LASA Musicians Are Using Quarantine to Slow Down and Explore Their Passion

Wrenny Collamer, Staff Writer

Austin’s stay-at-home order has been in place for over a month, and while the isolation might feel like an eternity to some, for students like junior Emily Kahn, the extra time has provided the chance to dive deeper into their passion for music.

Kahn has been using a new audio interface to make music during the quarantine. She said the new software has given her freedom to add more instruments and depth to her songs. As for the extra time, she says she is happy to finally catch a break from a hectic school life and focus on creativity.

“I have so much time on my hands,” Kahn said. “The problem for me is that during the school year I just don’t have time to write music. I try my hardest, but it is so difficult with everything that is going on, so it’s really nice to have a period of time where I can just be creative and not worry about other stuff.”

Kahn said isolation has changed her approach to writing her lyrics. She said she has been more introspective and unlocked a new approach to writing music in a more free-form, improvisational way.

“I think that right now in quarantine we are all able to take a breath and really think about what we want to do,” Kahn said. “I think that this span of time has been a nice pause for me to reflect on stuff that has happened in my life that maybe I brushed over because I was just being so busy and had to keep moving. I guess through that self-paced self-reflection I am able to dig deeper into my emotional core, which is where all my music comes from. I think that my music is on a deeper level than it was before quarantine.”

Junior Aubrie Edmond, who started playing guitar during quarantine, said the extra time that she now has gives her room to explore the new instrument. It has also helped her cope with the new obstacles that isolation has brought, according to Edmond.

“It’s been a relaxing thing,” Edmond said. “With online school, I feel less motivated to actually do school if I’m not actually in school, so to get myself into the mindset to work I have to relax first. Music helps me calm down and get into that head space.”

Junior Ella Glasscock said she has been playing the piano every day, using it to work out chord progressions and melodies that she later plugs into her music production software. In addition, quarantine has allowed her to look at other artists’ work more and draw influence from them with her songwriting.

“I feel like I am noticing what other people are doing, and I want to incorporate their talents into my own music,” Glasscock said.

Glasscock also she feels lucky to be in the position she is now as a musician. Although living in such unprecedented circumstances, she said her expression through making music has been freeing.

“I feel lucky to have this kind of experience with quarantine,” Glasscock said. “I’m not a frontline worker. I’m not a grocery store worker. I’m not a healthcare worker. I just like making music. Someone once told me when something tragic happens or when something unprecedented is taking place, if you’re a writer, write. If you’re a painter, paint. If you’re a musician, go make some music. That’s what’s going to be left to remember it.”

For some, sharing a passion for music has provided a rare chance to meaningfully socialize from a distance. Kahn said that even though challenges exist when trying to collaborate through a screen, she has worked hard to find workarounds in an effort to continue sharing and collaborating.

“It’s really interesting to be working creatively with someone over a screen,” Kahn said. “It’s so strange. A lot of music comes from spontaneity in the moment, like when you are all playing together and that’s not possible over Zoom or FaceTime, so it’s been a journey, but I feel like I am getting there.”

Junior Drew Buerger has also been making beats and writing melodies. He said he has been using the chance to share his music as a way to bond with his friends in a time when social interaction is limited.

“I am in a group chat with my friends Isaiah [Hernandez-Gold] and Beckett [Schmeil] and we always send each other music and opinions on new songs that we find, so it is great to get to talk about something that we are all interested in,” Buerger said.

Buerger described the chance to finally get around to making music in this free time as an opportunity that students shouldn’t miss. He encouraged those wanting to get involved in the world of music to make the leap and start.

“[Making music] kept me interested in something for a period of a couple weeks where otherwise I don’t think I would be doing anything else,” Buerger said. “I would just say start messing around, writing down song lyrics, finding beats on YouTube, and exploring different genres of music besides the main genres that you listen to. It’s really interesting and fun,” Buerger said.

Kahn shared a similar sentiment, describing all of this time as a rare opportunity to discover something new. She said that anyone can be musical and encouraged students to get into it no matter what doubts they have.

“Just do it. Seriously,” Kahn said. “I didn’t think that I could write music until I just somehow suddenly did. It will give you something to keep you busy and you might be surprised with what you can do.”