Fine Arts majors say they struggle with online and distance learning

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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to restrictions on in person classes at the University of Connecticut, giving rise to an increase in online instruction.  The transition to mostly online classes has been difficult for many students, but is especially a struggle for students studying the fine arts.  

The music rehearsal, lesson and practice rooms in the fine arts complex that would usually be open to walk-in students are now limited to one student at a time in 30 minute intervals. These rooms are only available through reservation.  

Tristin Wong, a piano performance and business accounting major, explained how these restrictions make studying piano performance difficult.  

10/13/2020 Fine arts complex by Erin Knapp The Fine Arts complex, located on the south side of campus across from Downtown Storrs, is made up of multiple buildings that include concert halls, classrooms, study rooms, and music practice rooms. The school of Fine Arts has four different focuses, each with multiple different majors: Art and Art History, Digital Media and Design, Dramatic Arts, and Music.

“I’m living at home but come to UConn once a week for in person lessons. It’s not the best to play over zoom and learn from pre-recorded videos,” Wong said. “The sound quality of instruments is really different over video. It’s a hard transition from the access to practice rooms to the loss of the collaborative element. Without ensemble playing, it’s hard to capture what we had before. First years have no idea what it’s like to play in a UConn group, which is really sad.”  

Caitlin Corsetti, a first semester music education major and trumpet player, expressed why online learning is so frustrating.  

“As a freshman, it sucks because I was looking forward to the first year experience,” Corsetti said.  “I don’t interact with people in my major as much as I would in normal times. Especially as a music major, because music is such a hands on major and it’s so hard to do anything online. It’s hard finding time to schedule practices on top of my online work.”  

The signs hanging in rehearsal rooms inform students who are able to wear a mask while playing to do so. String players, percussionists and pianists are all required to play while wearing a mask in a group rehearsal. Musicians who play brass or woodwind instruments and singers are required to stay 12 feet apart while rehearsing.  

Art studios are also restricted to a limited number of students and there are similarly less opportunities to work in groups and collaborate with other students.  

Carly Kuseic, a first semester general art major, finds her art project assignments to be manageable.  

“It’s interesting, most of my professors are really good at giving us assignments that are easy to do in a dorm or online,” Kuseic said. “We got a materials list prior to coming to UConn and the projects for all semester so my schedule is overall flexible. Things are good overall.”  

Tomaso Scotti, a first semester studio art major concentrating in graphic design and printmaking, discussed why online classes can’t capture all aspects of art.  

“The transition online creates a lack of motivation while in studio art, it’s hard to push yourself when you aren’t in a room full of other art students,” Scotti said. “It’s especially difficult in discussion based classes; it’s hard to critique others online. It feels like I’m missing something, it’s almost lucky that I don’t know what I’m missing out on. The teacher can’t look over your shoulder at your artwork and tell you what you’re doing wrong as you do it. Not everyone is on the same page.”  

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