Juan David Espitia was first launched to percussion devices manufactured from dried cow pores and skin in his native Colombia, when a instructor really useful music to assist him handle his ADHD. Music was at all times centre stage for Espitia, which is comprehensible for anybody rising up in a rustic referred to as “the land of a thousand rhythms.”
Espitia and his household moved to Montreal in 2009, when he was 10 years outdated. Although the language barrier was tough to beat, Espitia’s involvement in youth music applications eased the battle.
“I might really feel one thing I am unable to specific, after which music exhibits up, like, ‘Hi there, I am your language — use me!'” he mentioned.
Connecting by jazz
Espitia had bother regarding well-liked music in Canada; it was a far cry from the colorful Colombian salsa rhythms of his youth. That’s, till he discovered jazz.
“There’s a soulful half to it that felt nearer to what I grew up on than what was well-liked right here,” he mentioned of his preliminary publicity to jazz throughout a blues camp for teenagers organized by the Montreal Jazz Pageant. “Salsa is just about jazz with a Latin American Afro-Cuban rhythm,” he mentioned. “The best way concord is constructed is comparable. It was an awakening for me.”
Finding out jazz introduced a problem that Espitia was desirous to tackle.
In 2019, after finishing a jazz program at CEGEP Saint-Laurent in Montreal, Espitia enrolled in Concordia College’s jazz research program. “To be an excellent artist, if you get inspiration, you might want to know methods to translate it. You need to know the vocabulary, you want the technical half,” he mentioned.
Concordia provided a way to this finish by its services, tools, lecturers and a group of like-minded jazz fanatics.
Espitia had one full semester of this expertise. However when the pandemic hit and universities had been compelled to go distant final yr, every thing he sought from the establishment was placed on maintain. There was no extra entry to services or tools, and relationship dynamics amongst now-distant and remoted friends and lecturers had been drastically modified.
“It is not what I would like, and it is not what I am prepared to pay my cash for,” he mentioned of post-lockdown music research. By the point the autumn semester started, Espitia had suspended his research.
Espitia’s case is not distinctive, as many college students in applications anchored in follow and bodily entry struggled to adapt to on-line studying.
“The primary curiosity in going to school for music is the networking alternatives,” mentioned Sophie Brubacher, a bassist who left the identical program final fall. “Being surrounded by different musicians, it pushes you, everyone is in the identical mindset. With out that, to me there was no level.”
No college, no drawback
Although they’ve left this system, neither Espitia nor Brubacher have stopped engaged on their craft. Brubacher has been practising on her personal, whereas Juan has been engaged on compositions and manufacturing for his two bands, Amor Muerto and Pockethead.
“I realized on my own, even the technical stuff, by tutorials,” Espitia mentioned. How he experiences music has expanded to raised accommodate this new digital-first actuality. His focus has shifted from purely sensible drumming to a extra holistic appreciation of blending and producing music in an internet context, which is the path he believes music goes, pandemic or not.
Espitia and Burbacher consider that extra might have been accomplished to maintain scholar artists engaged.
“Music, I believe, is within the physique, within the ears, but persons are making an attempt to show it as if it is a science. That neglects its coronary heart,” Brubacher mentioned. She hopes that establishments can study from this expertise, as she desires to return to Concordia as soon as in-person actions resume.
It was clear to the college that their difficulties could be distinctive, mentioned Annie Gérin, Concordia’s dean of wonderful arts. “We employed specialist fine-art practitioners who’re finding out methods to give fine-art training on-line to assist us,” she mentioned.
Past the pandemic, reflections on tools and different accessibility points will stay related to the division, Gérin mentioned.
Gérin added that they have not recorded a drop in enrolment, however that there was a better variety of deferrals, like Espitia and Brubacher.
Deferrals on the college have been greater amongst wonderful arts college students than every other college. Within the winter 2021 semester, deferrals had been up 363 per cent in comparison with winter 2020. The second highest improve got here on the John Molson Faculty of Enterprise, the place deferrals to the identical semester had been up 181 per cent from the earlier yr.
“There have been loads of college students who had been anxious about what it means to be studying wonderful arts on-line,” she mentioned. “Within the division, we had been encouraging these college students to only strive it and see.”
WATCH | Juan David Espitia is studying about music manufacturing in his follow house
Although this previous yr has examined their resolve, each musicians nonetheless consider within the worth of a proper wonderful arts training. However they hope that the college learns methods to higher accommodate college students if one thing like this occurs once more.
Espitia desires to return to his research — however solely as soon as he is in a position to take action in-person.
“I’m going there to study, I would like that data and human contact,” he mentioned. “I believe establishments will at all times be there, however they must change.”
This story is a collaboration between Concordia College’s journalism division and CBC Montreal.