When we first found out that Spring Quarter was going to be conducted entirely remotely in light of the pandemic, Andy Nguyen and I, as Psi and EK’s (PsiEK’s) Directors of Service, were at a loss for what to do about our 2020 Day of Music and Leadership we had been preparing for.
As a new tradition still in its early years, PsiEK’s Day of Music and Leadership (DoMaL) is a day-long event that focuses on inviting high school musicians from the LA area to UCLA to spend the day with Psi and EK learning about leadership, music, and self-development in a variety of workshops that Brothers and Sisters put together.
For the past few years, the highlight of the event has been the culminating Reading Band, in which all of the high school students, along with the Brothers and Sisters present, form a large sight-reading band conducted by graduate students or faculty from UCLA’s own Herb Alpert School of Music.
With the sudden transition to remote instruction and UCLA operating almost entirely remotely (campus shut down and all), preparations for just about all of PsiEK’s operations were suddenly riddled with ambiguity and uncertainty.
It took a lot of communication, collaboration, and trust, but little by little, we got the ball rolling on putting together a virtual DoMaL. Andy and I reconvened and agreed to do our best to make a virtual DoMaL happen. From there, we spoke at length regarding what the event would look like, reinstated the necessary committees, communicated with the workshop leaders, and so forth.
In the process, we realized that we would have to cut some parts that would typically be included in the in-person event - for example, trying to get dozens of people to sight-read and play music together, in time, over a Zoom call for a remote Reading Band.
Regardless, PsiEK still managed to put on a successful and worthwhile virtual DoMaL for high schoolers!
Mid-morning the day of the event, I booted up my Zoom to welcome dozens of high schoolers alongside Andy. After explaining how the event would operate remotely, the welcome meeting dispersed and I spent the day popping in and out of different Zoom calls, delighted to see the many workshops running smoothly with a vibrant and engaged audience of high schoolers.
Brothers and Sisters this year hosted workshops on woodwind techniques, brass methods, leadership in music, collaboration in leadership, public speaking, college applications, and more! I even hosted my own workshop on self-care in a quarantine and had a lovely conversation with a group of high school students and fellow Brothers and Sisters about what self-care looks like for us and how we can improve on caring for our best selves.
After all of the workshops, the virtual event ended with a laughter-filled Question and Answer session with a group of Brothers and Sisters for the high school students. We shared a lot of stories about music, college, and life with each other and had fun providing guidance to the high school musicians in the rest of their journeys as students, musicians, and people.
With immense gratitude, I am happy to say that PsiEK’s 2020 virtual DoMaL was a resounding success!