Editorial: Young artists deserve their time to shine too

Posted 2/18/21

Covid has interrupted so many of life’s normal routines, but most jarring are those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can never be recovered.

Weddings can be postponed until better days. …

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Editorial: Young artists deserve their time to shine too

Posted

Covid has interrupted so many of life’s normal routines, but most jarring are those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that can never be recovered.

Weddings can be postponed until better days. Celebrations of life can be reasonably replicated in small gatherings or in virtual settings. Reunions, celebrations, birthdays and anniversaries can all be put on hold, with future dates penciled in to commemorate the milestones.

Yet today’s young people will never get an opportunity to recreate what they are losing now. Consider the artists.

While their athletic peers have been allowed to mostly continue as normal, practicing as teams, riding buses to competitions and playing games in their beloved sports, the singers, musicians and performers have enjoyed no such reprieve.

In some regards, there is logic in the rules. Athletes are being tested weekly and wearing masks at all times — measures designed to prevent the spread of Covid and to keep them competing in games and meets throughout the region.

Of course, singers, actors and musicians cannot comply with the mask mandate; a glorious wind solo or soaring soprano just wouldn’t be the same muffled by a mask.

Yet is a thin strip of cloth all that separates relative normalcy for one group of young people from irrevocable loss of opportunity for another group? It seems absurd, and painfully less than equitable.

Today’s young performers, in both high schools and colleges, are mostly relegated to singing or playing alone and having their individual renditions edited into symphonic performances. It’s the best they can do under the circumstances, but it is not even close to the real thing.

Banished to virtual gatherings only, they lose precious time for learning with the close involvement of an instructor, playing in a group, feeling the power of a shared performance.

A high school senior today will never again have a chance to perform in a concert before their families, take a bow on stage with their friends or hear the applause from an auditorium of classmates. Because the school calendar and educational timelines must march forward, these are experiences that cannot be delayed or postponed or recreated. They are simply lost forever.

Though it may seem hopeless now, it is not too late to save something of this school year for the many performers who would love a chance at something normal. If school leaders had the will, they could design an opportunity for these students to perform together at least once — outdoors, open air, socially distanced, separated by partitions … whatever it takes.

They deserve a concert. They deserve a musical. They deserve their once-in-a-lifetime experience.

2021 by East Bay Newspapers

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Meet our staff
Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.