Two students turned to music in the past few weeks to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about their experiences below.
While most of society is avoiding the threat of COVID-19 by staying home, health care workers are putting their health and safety at risk by tirelessly working to serve patients in hospitals and other health care facilities. To honor the life-saving work of health care workers, Case Western Reserve University second-year medical student Jasmine Robinson wrote and performed “Physicians on Fire,” a rendition of Alicia Keys’ “Girl on Fire” for the Physicians Working Together 2020 Medical Student Scholarship Contest. Earlier this month, Robinson was named the winner of the contest, which awards a scholarship that helps fund part of a medical student’s education.
Since she was in grade school, music has been a creative outlet for Robinson, who took piano lessons, participated in school musicals and choirs, and wrote parody songs in her free time. She has continued to find ways to pursue her interest in music during her medical school career through her involvement in Doc Opera, an annual student-led musical production that raises money for the Student-Run Health Clinic.
With her busy schedule as a medical student, Robinson initially did not think she would have time to submit an entry to the Physicians Working Together scholarship contest. However, as the growing threat of COVID-19 began to take over the U.S., Robinson found herself turning to her piano as a respite from the stress. “I hadn’t touched my keyboard in months, but returning to the sound of familiar notes was a way of coping with the rapid changes happening in the world,” Robinson said.
Robinson found inspiration to write her own rendition of “Girl on Fire” after watching Keys’ pandemic-themed cover of Flo Rida’s “My House” on The Late Show. She also referred to impactful stories of bravery from health care workers around the world and the remarkable leadership of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci as sources of inspiration for her song.
Robinson is doing her part to stop the spread of COVID-19 by staying home, where she is able to remotely continue her studies and proceed with her research.
Sarah Coffman, a third-year Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) student in the Department of Music’s Historical Performance Practice program, said she can’t stay sane without playing Renaissance music. While practicing social distance in her family’s Chicago home, she has no colleagues with whom to perform it. So she came up with a clever alternative.
Using the Acapella app, Coffman recorded five parts of a piece of Renaissance music by herself, three on viola da gamba and two by singing. The piece is William Byrd’s “Turn Our Captivity” from his Psalmes, Songs, and Sonnets (1611).