The coronavirus and the cancellation of performances has had a dramatic impact on the arts community. Many artists and companies are suffering large economic losses and are experiencing large heightened feelings of depression from being deprived of their passions for months on end. The widespread cancellation of in-person events has affected many businesses—independent artists included—who rely on events, workshops, gigs, and physical locations to pay their bills.
Artists and arts organizations everywhere are now finding creative ways to keep art flowing digitally despite the country’s current quarantine. Students at OCSA have had to adjust and teachers have had to find new ways to continue teaching their artists. For instance, Mr. Molineaux’s band students have been using an online practice tool called SmartMusic to send in their playing tests normally done in person throughout the year. He says that they are going to be using this tool to hopefully put together some full band pieces. “The main focus is helping each student grow as an individual musician.”
But for many students, this new way of practicing and continuing to learn about their art has been a challenge. Ambar Cesari, a sophomore dance major says, “It has been kind of hard for me. In Dr. Austin’s class, we literally have to do our barre exercises over Zoom and it’s difficult because Dr.Austin is not there to make sure we are doing it correctly, so I have to kind of correct myself.” When asked if she thinks this new way of learning has helped her improve her dance skills she said, ” I feel that I have had a more concentrating mindset in class because I am trying to get my technique back.”
Additionally, Dr. Austin, a dance teacher at OCSA says, that this quarantine has improved the way she teaches dance but did not change her perception on it. “My perception of dance has and will never change based on any external context. Dance lives in my heart and the space where I dance is in my soul. It cannot be contained…I am evaluating, assessing, mentoring, guiding, developing beyond my students but have been helping other teachers nationally and internationally make the shift to online teaching of dance and not just ‘doing it’, but learning to do it WELL!”
The arts teachers have also had challenges in teaching their students. Mr. Molineaux, says, “The biggest challenge for me is not being able to conduct my ensembles and hear my students play live. We lost a lot of end of year activities like our Spring Concert and our performance at The Dr. Phillips Center. I wish I was consistently teaching full band, but the silver lining is trying to help guide my students growth as individual musicians.”
With these challenges, teachers are finding ways to keep themselves motivated. Mrs. Calderon, an art instructor at OCSA say that to keep herself motivated to continue teaching at this time, she conducts video meetings. “Frankly, I want to hear/see them; that alone is motivation to me. What makes the art room so magnetic, attracting students into this space, is the students themselves. So I wanted to give them a chance to hear or see each other through the video meetings. I miss the vibe the art room gives,that creative vibe, the stories that flow during the creative process.”
But finding the motivation to continue learning and practicing art in this new way has not been so easy for students. Students are unable to find their passion for art again without being in a physical environment with like minded peers who also share that same passion. Students may also inherently be doubting their ability to accomplish a task at hand and may feel anxiously motivated, but incapable of taking action.
But is it possible for this lack of motivation to be the art itself?
Mr. Capley, a creative writing teacher at OCSA says, “Art is not only about the finished product, but equally (and sometimes more importantly) it is about the process of creating. Art is the mark of a civilization, and its presence adds meaning to the individual creating, as well as those who may be lucky enough to view it. It can be a tool to understanding one’s frustrations and fears, as well as the vehicle to inspiring hope and innovation moving forward.”
It is common for artists to lose motivation. It’s only natural to periodically experience a loss of energy and lapse of creativity at this time. However, it is only temporary and it will help students find the threshold of a new powerful direction. In other words, it could be just the catalyst you need for growth and transformation. It is not the difference of having raw talent or not; it is simply pushing through mental resilience and finding your passion for art in the things you felt you lost passion for.
Mrs. Testa, a vocal teacher at the OCSA, says, “Quarantine is no different than vacation. A professional artist does not take a break from practicing during vacation, they practice every day. A professional artist would not stop practicing due to quarantine, either…”
Mrs. Wietor, guidance counselor at OCSA says, “Motivation is tricky, what works for one person may not work for another, but I’m of the way of thinking that sometimes it is really, really hard and there isn’t any magic to making motivation happen except to never give up. Perhaps the best approach is to ‘fake it ’til you make it’. Sometimes an artist doesn’t ‘feel’ the inspiration, or desire to keep creating and working. But just the daily habit, of always doing something can carry a person very far…the routine of always doing something, is what gives nourishment to the creative seed. In the struggle to keep going there is power, and that power can eventually give life to incredible art. But, in the moments when it seems too overwhelming, just doing something is better than doing nothing. Physics applies to creativity too, an object in motion tends to stay in motion, but an object at rest, tends to stay that way, or as Dory says,’just keep swimming’.”
And this is why we appreciate our arts teachers at OCSA. No matter the circumstances they are still trying to find ways to keep us motivated and develop an innate creativity inside ourselves that we were not previously aware of. So I encourage all OCSA artists out there to push yourself and reignite that passion.