Masks Can’t Stop the Music

Masks Can’t Stop the Music

Clefnotes President Gacie Vaughn by Sam Shirley

Clefnotes President Gacie Vaughn by Sam Shirley

By Samantha Pond, Contributing Writer

    Two of UMF’s acapella groups, Deep Treble and the Clefnotes, are finding ways to continue making music despite the pandemic. 

    In March 2020, both groups were thrown for a loop when schools started to close down and no one was able to rehearse together. All plans for Deep Treble and the Clefnotes were brought to a halt, as singing in groups was not recommended by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

    Over the summer, both of UMF’s acapella groups worked online to plan for the fall semester. Working together was necessary for groups to stay positive. “We frequently Zoom to check in on each other and discuss future club plans,” said Gracie Vaughan, second-year student and the president of the Clefnotes.

    Both groups on campus are not giving up on rehearsals and meetings during these challenging times. Third-year student and co-president of Deep Treble, Kaitlynn Tarbox, has shown great determination to help keep Deep Treble together. “We have still been meeting twice a week during the pandemic with heavily enforced COVID procedures to ensure everyone’s safety,” Tarbox said. “We have to keep 10 feet of distance between everyone while we sing and still be masked to follow CDC guidelines.”         

    Rehearsals for the Clefnotes are looking a little different than Deep Treble’s rehearsals. “We no longer have full group meetings and meet instead in smaller groups of less than six people,” Vaughan said. “While it has created some physical challenges, it has truly shown many of our members’ determination to keep Clefnotes fun.”

    With constant changes in regulations, members not able to attend, and not being able to find spaces for each group to rehearse and perform as a whole, both groups have faced challenges. “It has been difficult to find performance opportunities that were not virtual,” said Tarbox. “It is very difficult to put together a virtual concert so in-person performances are preferred if we can.” 

    For the acapella group, Clefnotes have felt differing struggles as they continue rehearsals in small groups and on Zoom. “Additionally, the stress of the pandemic itself has only intensified the stress of being in college, as many of us are juggling jobs, clubs, and social lives,” said Vaughan. 

    Despite the hoops the Clefnotes and Deep Treble have had to jump through to be able to practice together, singing acapella has kept members optimistic about the rest of the semester. “We are remaining a positive, safe space…so that our members can have a break from academics and still be able to see each other,” Tarbox said. “All of our decisions are run by not only our [executive] board members, but by the group as well.” 

    Auditions have become a struggle for both groups, as there is no place for them to be held when taking into consideration the conflict of safety when doing so. “[Deep Treble] held auditions last semester and filled some of our available spots, but this semester, with COVID-19 getting worse, we decided to hold off on auditions until next fall,” said Tarbox. The Clefnotes accepted video submissions for their auditions. Those who have auditioned and qualified for callbacks will receive their callback confirmation via email by Feb. 12.

    If students would like more information about either group on campus, please contact umf.deeptreble-group@maine.edu for information on Deep Treble or gracie.vaughan@maine.edu for Clefnotes or DM them on Instagram (@umfclefnotes).

Bite Me Beaver #6

Dear Bite,

     I have recently been at home, due to everything that has been going on. While I love my family and all, I can’t help but go absolutely insane when dealing with them. I have a part time job while I’m here, and while it gets me out of the house, I don’t know what’s worse–my family or my coworkers? Is there any way for me to last through these next few months without killing someone, or is that just crazy to think in itself?

-Pessimistic Polly

 

Dear Polly, 

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. I too am back at my dam and I swear I’ve gnawed through at least 3 trees already. I’ve been coping by buying my little miracle in a bottle otherwise known as melatonin. That’s right, hibernation is coming early this year folks. Three of them and I’m out like a light, they really have been a saving grace during this time.

-Bite

 

 

Dear Bite,

    I have run myself into a small dilemma (or I should say my heart has). I have started becoming more interested in my teacher than the lesson, if that makes sense. My heart throbs for him and I can’t help but almost drool over him while he lectures. I have gotten to the point where I have to turn my camera off while in class because it’s THAT obvious. Any suggestions…?

-Heart Eyes For Him

 

Dear Heart Eyes,

    Ask to stay after class for “extra help” on Zoom. Profess (no pun intended) your undying love for him, what’s the worst that could happen? He feels too awkward to fail you and risk having you in class again, so he passes you? Yes please! You got this, and remember, Zoom calls are recorded just for future record 😉

-Bite 

 

 

Dear Bite, 

     I am a faculty member here at UMF. Lately my students have been leaving my Zoom calls early. I feel like I’m just talking to an empty space (it doesn’t help that their cameras are off). Is there any way to engage my students more than I already am?

-Fuming While Zooming 

 

Dear Fuming,

     I think you could benefit from reading this article. We have a student who can’t stop staring at her professor during Zoom and yours are running away from you. May I suggest taking more so a Magic Mike method of teaching. Now I’m not saying full on strip for your class (but I’m sure it would help) but just give them a little eye candy during the lecture and I assure you attendance will skyrocket. 

-Bite 

 

 

Dear Bite, 

    I am currently in the Journalism class and I feel like no one reads my pieces. It feels like I’m putting my readers to sleep. Am I not interesting? Do the students at UMF not care about the rising water levels of the Sandy River during the rainy season? What can I do to make my articles more interesting?

-Snoring Boring  

 

Dear Snoring, 

    As an old soul with The Farmington Flyer I often preview articles before they make it into the paper and let’s just say that I find your articles riveting, but your audience doesn’t. I can attest to the falling asleep bit because, well, I have taken a small nap while reading your articles. Try writing about some hot gossip, it’s what the readers want (dare I say need). Or you can stick to writing your dry articles and putting our readers to sleep. I mean, we all need help getting to sleep sometimes.

-Bite

Tiny Frog Wishes

Tiny Frog Wishes

You happen upon a tiny frog who grants tiny wishes. The frog informs you that you cannot wish for big things, like money, love, or power, or wishes that will benefit a population. What do you wish for?  -Freckles the Flyer Frog

Freckles the Flyer Frog

Freckles the Flyer Frog

 

By Faith Rouillard and Malcolm Langner:

– A restful night sleep

– A pencil that never goes missing 

– A shower that never gets cold 

– A full fridge without going grocery shopping 

– Flawless internet while on Zoom 

– A clone to attend Zoom classes 

– A phone that never dies 

– A white and sunny Christmas 

– White shoes that never get dirty 

– A coffee table that won’t slide away from your feet 

– Getting into shape without having to exercise 

– No ads on games or TV

– Never getting toothpaste on your clothes again 

 

By Portia Hardy:

– Jeans that fit perfectly

– An electronic charger that works on any device 

– A never-ending jug of pure maple syrup 

 

By Emma Pierce: 

– A bedroom that cleans itself

– Paper mâché that dries quickly

– Glasses that don’t smudge

Professors Adapting to Emergency Remote Teaching

Andrea Swiedom Staff Reporter

    UMF professors adapting coursework to online platforms last minute has posed some unique challenges, but has also resulted in some positive surprises. Depending on the discipline, the transition has been as simple as utilizing Blackboard more than they did before, changing in-person lectures to Zoom classes, and recording lectures. Disciplines such as natural sciences have posed more difficult problems and require more creative solutions.

    Professor Mariella Passarelli’s organic chemistry students luckily completed their basic lab requirements in the fall, but are unable to conduct the lab portion of their capstone projects. “Students have to plan and come up with the procedure to make a target compound – like an antiviral agent – and then try it out in the lab,” Passarelli said via email. “Students will still plan their synthesis, but they won’t get to try out their plan in the lab. They will still write about it.”

    While Passarelli has managed to adapt the content, she iterated that there is no replacement for an in-person lab. “It does not matter how good the virtual lab is, it is not the same,” Passarelli said. “It is like virtually cooking instead of actually cooking, or watching a travel show as opposed to going abroad or playing a sport virtually; just not the same.”

    Students in Professor Stephen Grandchamp’s English courses–Modern Love Sonnets in the Digital Age and Hip Hop History and Culture–are well-accustomed to digital programs as modern technological mediums are a staple of Grandchamp’s teaching. 

    Most recently in Grandchamp’s hip hop course, students watched the movie 8 Mile collectively and then discussed the movie together on Zoom. “That project works really well moving into digital modality. It’s been a pretty easy transition,” he said over a video chat in his Farmington home.

    As manager of the Digital Humanities lab, Grandchamp has received several questions by other professors as to how to adapt course content to new platforms. “I would say my first rule is to make sure that you are comfortable with what you are doing. Don’t feel like you have to go into a digital program just because we are online this semester,” he said.

    English Professor Dan Gunn has stuck to Zoom for the majority of his courses’ content and has found the breakout room feature the most useful for maintaining the discussion-based nature of his classes. This feature automatically generates groups of students into private discussions where Gunn can visit to listen in and help guide discussions. 

    Nonetheless, there are just certain aspects that he feels are lost in online platforms. “To me, it’s not the same because there’s something that you get from having the energy in the same room. It feels flat to me,” he said over video chat, sitting in front of a towering bookshelf in his Wilton home. “I like to read aloud. I don’t like reading to a screen, to people in little boxes. It feels unnatural to me.”

   Yet, Gunn has been pleasantly surprised to see students maintaining high spirits and even making light of the current upheaval. When he enters the Zoom classroom for his Shakespeare course, he often finds his students playing Shakespearean version of hangman.  

    “I feel like people are getting a little more used to this so it’s not as intimidating as it once was. That’s true for me too, obviously,” Gunn said. “I’m really impressed with the way the students have been willing to adapt to that. I’ve had really good attendance in the last week or so.”

    Passarelli expressed a similar nostalgia for in-person teaching since adapting her Forensic Science course to what she described as “guided inquiry” in which students go through videos, case studies, and PowerPoint presentations on their own. “I had a wonderful group of students this semester. We were having fun in that class, and I miss them,” she said.

   Luckily, some positives have emerged from online learning. Both Grandchamp and Gunn noted that a handful of students seem to engage more online. “Some students seem more comfortable online than they were face-to-face,” Gunn said. “They have been more active and interested in participating electronically.”

    Grandchamp has noticed that more students are reaching out to him during his office hours than they were before quarantine. “I think it feels a little more low-pressure to students than going to their professor’s office. They don’t have to be on video, and if they’re uncomfortable, they can turn their video off or they can just use the Zoom dial-in number. And I have given them my cell phone number just to text during my office hours.”

    Passarelli is hopeful that this emergency transition to online learning will foster new strengths in her students. “I am hoping that the guided-inquiry style will teach my students how to be independent learners,” said Passarelli.

    UMF’s emergency transition to online teaching has also provided students and professors with socialization, a basic need that is severely lacking in everyone’s lives under quarantine. “We’re all isolated, and this is a chance to talk to people so I think people have been really sweet with each other,” Gunn said.

 

Correction (4/27/20):

Gunn lives in Wilton, ME.

The hangman game was an activity Gunn’s students did before the switch to remote learning due to COVID-19 and Gunn “reconstituted” the activity over Zoom.