Courtesy of Madison Shimko

On November 14, Madison Shimko and Maegan Sherburne held their joint flute and clarinet recital.

This was their Senior Recital, the performance they’ve been training for nearly four years. It’s also one of the biggest performances in any music student’s college career. Madison Shimko, the flutist, described how a normal recital would look.

“Typically, at the end of a recital, the performers will come up into the lobby and everyone will start clapping, and you’ll say some ‘thank yous’ and remarks, and have that reception afterwards with food and with everyone. That’s, I think, the biggest thing I’m gonna miss from this recital.”

Of course, doing this would be impossible this semester. Due to COVID-19 regulations, the rectial couldn’t have an audience, let alone a party afterwards. This has been one of the biggest disappointments for seniors majoring in music this semester. Robin Matathias, Shimko’s teacher, explained further.

“You can imagine as a freshman thinking about your senior recital, and you go to other senior recitals and you see how festive it is, and there’s a reception afterwards, and all your family comes. So there’s that let down that, I think, is really tough for seniors in general, but is magnified somewhat for music majors because this is such a big event that you prepare for, for the previous three years,” said Matathias.

Despite the letdown of not being able to have that experience, Shimko remains optimistic in the face of adversity.

“It would’ve been nice to have an audience, but I think that given the situation this is way better than just not even having a recital. We’re really just lucky to have the opportunity to give a recital, whether that’s on a livestream or in person,” said Shimko.

Preparation for a prerecorded recital has proved to be much different as opposed to in-person concerts. Although it is certainly different for an audience not to be allowed in the recital hall during the performance, this also allowed the performers to record their songs more than once.

“We had the opportunity to do multiple takes, and I think that’s something that’s kind of a silver lining with this pandemic. We wouldn’t have had that opportunity to really tweak everything,” said Shimko.

Maegan Sherburne, the clarinetist, also found her own silver lining: Without an audience, she wasn’t nearly as nervous,
“For me, [it] was a little less stressful because I have really, really bad performance anxiety, so actually not having an audience there was a little less stressful,” said Sherburne.

Another difference Shimko noted was an unexpected change to her mental preparation for this special recital.

“Mental preparation has actually been a big thing for me. Before it was a lot of hammering away at notes and rhythms, but this time around during preparation for this recital, I did a lot of mental practice of allowing myself to make mistakes and know that it’s okay. This is an unprecedented time, if I don’t get this recital 100 pecent perfect, that’s okay, it’s never going to be perfect,” said Shimko.

While the two performers may not have been able to throw an afterparty, both were able to celebrate their accomplishment in a different way. Shimko watched the performance with her boyfriend and his family, and Sherburne spent the night with fellow music students.

“Another student’s Senior Recital was also that night, so a lot of the people there had also watched my recital, so I got to talk to them after hers, and also got to talk to her because she watched it. It’s a pretty tight-knit community in the music department,” said Sherburne.

Both performers knew pulling together a full recital during a pandemic would be difficult, but that didn’t stop them from accomplishing that feat, and the concert aired with no problems.


Emma Bishop can be contacted at:

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