Musical creativity alive and well during COVID-19 pandemic

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"Watch Me"/lilexpectationz/Paddy Berger/2020

By Aaron Cohen, Managing Editor

It’s just past midnight and Diego Lucero is laser focused on his craft, his eyes glued to the recording software Logic Pro X. He’s just finishing an audio mix of a new original song called “Come On Kid,” a raw blend of rap, punk and alternative genres. Once the mix is complete, Lucero publishes this new track on the “LT Songwriters” Google Chat, a chatspace created by Lane Tech music teacher Mr. Comiskey for musicians and songwriters at Lane to publish materials for others in the community to enjoy. The next day, “Come On Kid” is met with considerable praise from fellow members of the chat, with many lauding the personal lyrics and Mr. Comiskey calling the track “so flipping good.” 

Lucero, Div. 055 is one of several students at Lane who actively creates and performs original music. A talented guitar player and usual face at Lane Tech Open Mic events, Lucero also performs Mariachi music around Chicago’s quinceanera scene with his family.  

Because the coronavirus pandemic has made him unable to perform at live events, Lucero has quickly had to adapt to this novel situation. 

Lucero’s predicament is not an anomaly among musicians and performers. With concerts being postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many big name artists such as John Legend and Chris Martin have been regularly hosting virtual concerts on Instagram Live. Others, like Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie, have released new music that explores the peculiar and scary reality of living during an international health crisis.

“I do a lot of music live streams on Instagram with my family and also by myself,” Lucero said.  “It’s very interesting still trying to maintain engagement with an online audience. One thing I will do is tell people to request songs through the chat box so they can feel like they are participating in the concert directly.”

While listening to music has been shown to help relieve anxiety, creating music during times of great stress can also have significant benefits. 

Singer-songwriter Paddy Berger, Div. 177, has found creating music to be an effective distraction from some of the lingering disappointments of the last few months.

“It really sucks that we had to stop in-person school and move to e-learning,” Berger said. “This was not the ending to my junior year that I wanted to have. So I decided to make the most out of the situation and focus on something that I really love to do: writing songs.” 

Berger also acknowledged that he doesn’t necessarily want all of his songs to be melancholic. “I don’t want to write a song and then sing it two years from now to know you obviously wrote that during the pandemic. I want to write music that is both relevant now and accessible down the road.” 

The stay-at-home order has created a surplus of time for musicians to be fully engaged in their craft . “I don’t have to worry about not having enough time to write and record songs,” Berger said. 

Noble Bautista, Div. 056, said that the music he creates is often born out of strong negative emotions and situations. 

“Whenever I can’t process something that happens to me, I turn to music,” Bautista said. “I don’t know any other way to express those feelings. I use music for every emotion and music is just how I get my emotions out, these emotions often being extreme.”

While some artists have found the pandemic to provide ample inspiration for their art, others, like Bautista have found it more difficult to get inspired artistically. 

“When I was living my normal life I took inspiration from just stuff that happens during the day, and if there’s not a lot going on, there is not going to be a lot to be inspired by.” 

Despite this struggle, Bautista said he is not discouraged. “I never rush the creative process,” Bautista said. “I know something good will come.”

Listen to Paddy Berger’s original songs below: