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The Eastern Echo


The EMU Jazz Ensemble holds their latest live-streamed concert; one year into the pandemic

EMU performs with a year of the COVID-19 pandemic behind them.

Live-streamed from the Alexander Music Building, the Eastern Michigan University Jazz Ensemble held an online concert on Thursday, March 25. 

There were technical difficulties at the start of the live stream, as the screen turned black for a minute, but it was quickly fixed. 

The live stream started at 5:40 p.m. with the Jazz Ensemble co-director, Professor Donald Babcock, giving a welcome to the 180 viewers, followed by the order of the pieces to be performed. 

There were eight instrumentalists and one vocalist, who performed six pieces while wearing masks and following social distancing protocols. Since they play with a lot of wind instruments, the bells are also covered. 

Babcock stated that even with the shorten rehearsal times, and adapting to a virtual setting the group is still having fun. 

Bridgette Harms, who joined the Ensemble in Jan., is a trombone player and a senior, studying music at EMU.

"It was definitely interesting and ran a lot smoother than I expected it to be with the Pandemic and everything. I didn't start the Jazz band till January, this year," Harms said. 

Harms enjoyed having two directors as it was nice getting different perspectives in the ensemble. 

"It's cool because Tuesdays we do a little bit of improv stuff which helps me a lot cause I'm horrible at improv...then Thursdays, we work more on the music," Harms said. 

Though, they are only able to rehearse for 35 minutes, followed by a break, because of COVID-19 regulations. 

Which, according to Harms, was the hardest obstacle with performing in the Jazz Ensemble because breaking up the rehearsals caused a loss of “jazz flow."

Because of this, Harms is excited to see more in-person events. 

"I definitely became more excited for the in-person stuff...because we can meet in person more, and do the in-person stuff I love with ensembles," Harms said.

Professor Donald Babcock, alongside other co-director of the Jazz Ensemble, Geoffrey Stanton, explains the COVID-19 audition setting. 

"It was definitely different. I had to think a little outside the box. Normally, we do auditions in person, and so, this year we had people record and send in auditions, which I thought at first was going to be difficult....but being kind of a good thing,“ Babcock said.

Harms values the online experience, as it is unlike anything else that has happened and will prepare them for anything.

"It's definitely a learning experience in case anything happens like this in the future, we at least know what to do now with different online things, and recording stuff," Harms said.

Harms advice for anyone that's interested in performing for Jazz Ensemble, or performing any fine arts during this time:

"Definitely do not stress it as not stress having to perform online. It is nice having an audience, but at the same time just do not stress about it and we will get through it," Harms said.