Making art accessible online

Maya Preuss and Eliot Rogal

Putting on his headphones, junior Elyon Topolosky gets ready to record a new song for Shir Madness. He starts recording on his phone while listening to the music, singing as if he is doing karaoke.

Because of the coronavirus, Shir Madness has been unable to get together in person to perform songs. Instead, they have been compiling videos with each member recording their part from home. While Topolosky is happy to participate in virtual Shir Madness videos, he is not sure whether the experience of singing virtually can have the same effect as being in person.

“It requires a lot of teamwork to sing a song together,” Topolosky said. “[Virtual singing] doesn’t have the same dynamics and effects as it would if we were in person singing together in one room.”

Topolosky is very excited about getting involved in the virtual version of arts he was already a part of, and he said that he has been able to gain new skills in recording and video editing.

“I’ve learned from a lot of people how to create those types of videos like sync video and sound, like the step-by-step process creating a video like that,” Topolosky said.

Many other arts activities have also gone virtual which has led to new opportunities. Director of Arts Education Dr. David Solomon believes that while the experiences with the arts may be different, they are not necessarily worse.

“[Virtual learning gives] the ability to bring people in, to virtually travel the world,” Solomon said. “We had Daniel Pearl music day and zoomed in Noah Shufutinsky (also known as Westside Gravy) …. And he is someone who we would not be able to be in school because he is in Israel.”

Solomon is also excited about new opportunities for the high school musical.

“[The musical is] a really exciting experience,” Solomon said. “We’re not doing a traditional show. I don’t know how it’s possible to do a traditional show in this setting. Instead, we are saluting the 17 musicals that will reopen on Broadway when the pandemic is over.”

While some plans for arts programming have changed, there are many new and exciting opportunities that were not going to happen before. One such opportunity was the video club. Solomon thought the video club was a great opportunity to get students involved in video production for morning announcements and other video opportunities.

For CESJDS art classes, boxes of materials were put together by teachers and distributed at the start of the year in order for students to have the necessary materials to participate in class.

In visual arts teacher Jessie Nathans’ class, students have been using common household items such as cardboard to create looms and prepare for World Art Night in January. World Arts Night is a new event that is still in planning but will be similar to Arts Chai Lights, where there will be many art-related activities.

Nathans believes that even with all the changes, arts are still going to be a great way for students to be themselves.

“Art is a great way to check on your feelings and express yourself in meaningful ways, and everyone’s art is different, so as long as they show up with their supplies, amazing art comes out of it,” Nathans said.