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Samuel Goetz, president of the Music Production Club at UD, plays guitar at Philadelphia’s Grindhouse
Multimedia Studio, where he formerly worked as an audio engineer.
it launched in the fall of 2019, the Music Production Club at the
University of Delaware comprised an unlikely mix. Sure, there were a
couple of music majors in the group, but — for the most part —
participants represented a variety of departments, from mathematics to
Spanish to psychology.
Aspiring to be a teacher? A doctor? A candlestick
maker? It didn’t matter. As long as you had a song or a beat in your
head, you had a community. And, every Monday evening, that community met
in the Student Multimedia Design Center of UD’s Morris Library.
Then: the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic struck.
For a moment, the club’s 16 participants thought their communal
music-making days might be sunk. With campus closed and social
distancing directives coming from state and federal authorities, some
braced for a return to making art in isolation. But music forges
connection even when — and, sometimes, especially when — you can’t
The student musicians, who produce everything from rap to pop to
electronic dance music, have transferred their weekly meetings to Zoom, a
video conferencing platform. Using DAWs — digital audio workstations
for recording, editing, arranging, mixing and mastering music on a
computer — they take turns creating a sample, or a piece of a recording.
Each member then uses this sample as the foundation for a song or beat
created over the course of a week. When the students reconvene, they
share their work and offer feedback.
“I guess you could say I’m going a little stir crazy during
quarantine,” said Samuel Goetz, sophomore honors mechanical engineering
major, from his home in Haddonfield, New Jersey. “But making music
helps. It’s almost meditative — you get in the zone. And you do it with
peers you wouldn’t otherwise see during social isolation.”
This is the type of experience Goetz said he longed for after
graduating high school, when he worked as an audio engineer for a
recording studio in Philadelphia and, later, when he launched his own
company producing and selling beats to regional rappers.
“I wasn’t creating the music I wanted,” he said. “Instead, I was
making what I thought would sell. It was also solitary. Why would I
isolate myself when I could be using music to create community?”
Move this whole section up, swapping places with the section above it.
In October, before the pandemic created a
need for social distancing, the Music Production Club visited the Occupy
recording studio on Main Street in Newark. Here, Julian
Volare (seated at the computer) recorded vocals, while members learned
how to mix these vocals with audio effects.
After enrolling in UD, Goetz
launched the Music Production Club, now thriving during the midst of a
pandemic. One member, Daniel Loughlin, is a human services
major considering a career in social work. He makes music both through a
DAW and an ocarina, an ancient, bird-shaped wind instrument. His
current passion project — “I’ve devoted hundreds of hours to it” — is
creating the soundtrack for a friend’s independent, animated film about
coping with loss.
Because Loughlin is a person with both high-functioning autism and
ADHD, he said, the music has been a type of therapy — something that
helps him regain his focus when he is frustrated by school work. It also
serves as an escape from an unsettled world.
“Music takes your soul to a different place,” he said. “Even just for
a little bit, it gets your mind off of everything, which is especially
important during a stressful moment like this. It’s a reminder that
there are good things out there, too. It gives us a reprieve.”
Because many of the musicians upload their work to various streaming
services, outside listeners have access to this reprieve as well.
Putting something beautiful into the world at a time when so many are
struggling, Loughlin said, is “definitely part of the motivation.”
Consider Julian Volare, a violinist and first-year business
major who recently shared his latest project — a mixed tape of melodic
rap — on SoundCloud, Spotify, YouTube and Apple Music. One of the songs,
“No Roommate,” is about breaking up with his girlfriend on move-in day
“I was pretty upset about it,” he said
from his home in Wilmington, Delaware. “But without that experience, I
wouldn’t have this song, and I’m very happy with it. I can’t imagine not
having this creative outlet. I’d encourage anyone who is not making art
right now — music, painting, ceramics, whatever — to start. Having that
expression is so important, especially if you don’t have anyone to talk
to.” Being able to engage with outsiders who appreciate your art in
online comment sections during a period of social isolation, he added,
is a nice bonus.
For those interested in joining the club, the group encourages
participation from music enthusiasts of every skill level and from any
department on campus. The only requirement is that you have that song or
beat in your head… and that you come ready to grow as an artist. All
the musicians said they’re continually learning from one another and
their own creative processes. One of the takeaways? Patience is
paramount. Good things take time. If you want to be happy with your
results, you have to put in the work.
It’s a lesson, they said, is applicable to this time of quarantine.
“I really hope everyone is doing what they can to stay positive and
healthy,” Loughlin said between ocarina practice sessions. “There may be
more we need to endure, and it may not be easy. But — eventually —
better days are on the way.”
Article by Diane Stopyra; photos courtesy of UD Music Production Club
Published April 29, 2020