After music recitals were cancelled, the Live Music Club and SAMU stepped up to find ways to share students’ performances

June 4, 2020 | Arts & Culture

Graduation recitals are an important part of the educational journey for students in the Bachelor of Music in Jazz and Contemporary Popular Music. This is a culmination of the students’ learning and a big part of their final grade.

But like all other on-campus events in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the recitals were cancelled. Though the music program adapted its grading system to ensure students would still receive their final grades, many still wanted to find ways to perform, and that’s when Natalie Dormer, event planner for the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU), started noticing many music students sharing their disappointment online. So she reached out to see if they wanted to collaborate and submit recordings of the songs they would have performed as part of their recital.

“The students are proud of the work they put into their craft and would like the opportunity to showcase it,” says Natalie.

Natalie is collecting footage of the students’ recital pieces and plans to post the individual videos on the SAMU social media channels the week of June 15 to 19.

One of the major challenges for students is being able to gather with their bandmates in a shared space.

“What I think we’ve learned so far about this process is that we weren’t fully set up yet to accommodate an online-only world,” says Natalie. “Hopefully, as time passes, we’ll continue to adapt and find more fun and innovative ways to share content online.”

Distance auditions

As for incoming students, the music program has adjusted its audition process. In order for the program to follow physical distancing guidelines, applicants are now asked to outline their background educational and experiential information through an online form and attach an audio/visual recording of their repertoire and technical skills.

Learn more.


One of the Live Music Club’s featured performances, with Bachelor of Music student Dane Bjornson.

The Live Music Club, a student-run group that aims to provide music students with paid, professional performance opportunities, has also been trying to innovate by working with MacEwan University’s Facebook page to run livestream performances.

Keegan Hewitt, president of the club and a third-year student of the music degree program, says that many of their artists are able to perform solo or as part of a duo/trio, sharing hundreds of videos of “quarantined music performances.” The connection between artist and audience member, says Keegan, has become even more personal with artists giving shout-outs to viewers, and even performing for grandparents or distant relatives who would not have been able to watch their graduate recital or attend their concerts.

Virtual presentations may not be perfect, but Keegan says they’re the best way to support the local arts community at this time. “As long as we keep sharing and promoting homemade art, we can not only support local art, but we stay connected as a community and focus on the positive things we can still enjoy.”

Artists are doing everything they can to stay connected with fans.

“I think everyone is figuring out how best to handle this situation right now, and the arts community is definitely taking one of the biggest hits during this time,” says Keegan. “I think as time progresses, we will see artists come up with more creative ways to engage their audience and manage to support themselves financially.”

The club continues to do everything it can to support its artists, and encourages all music lovers to do the same.



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