Photo by Alice Philipp @AliceTookMyPicture

Quite honestly, this past week (and the next few days) is about treading water. I’m trying not to expend excess energy fighting the current, and now and then surrendering to the power of the waves that might otherwise engulf me. I’m taking every opportunity I can to let myself float when possible, and gently paddle when necessary. If I start flailing, I’m sunk.

I’m sure I’ve used swimming and water metaphors in these pages before; they are eminently apt when describing the processes involved in singing. The breath itself has tidal properties, and musical phrases (and the way a voice engages and shapes them) ebb and flow like waters do.

Such language is very front of mind for me these days, as my colleagues and I meet online (or in the case of our Performance graduates, alone with their pianist in our recital hall, while we sit masked behind plexiglass) to witness and assess the work of our students in a year like no other. We’re listening to young people sing as best they can in this moment, the culmination of work completed throughout this pandemic. So many of them have struggled with isolation and the many attendant issues that this has created: mental health concerns, internet vagaries, the inability to accurately evaluate sound quality or even intonation, the feeling of being behind the veil of a computer camera. And yet, so many of them amaze us. They are doing so much more than treading water. In so many cases, they are soaring, proving their resilience and ingenuity.

So: I am inspired. If they can do it, so can I.