Stay-at-Home Diaries | Erica Lee, Alumna

On Thursday March, 19, Los Angeles residents were asked to stay in their residences and limit all activities outside of their homes beyond what is necessary for essential tasks. Days later, PCM adapted its lessons and programs and launched a “distance learning” spring quarter.

For this series, we’re checking in with students, instructors, and staff members to see how they’re managing and how distance learning (and teaching) is working for them.

Erica Lee on couch taking a virtual class

PCM: Where are you right now and who are you with?
EL: Right now I’m living back at home with my family in La Canada Flintridge, CA. I was living near USC where I go to school and moved home as soon as my classes moved online.

PCM: How are you feeling and how have you adjusted to life at home?
EL: Life at home seems to provide a better quality of life for me than when I lived at school, which is an improvement! I’m eating three meals a day and being generously taken care of by my parents even during the weekdays. Adjusting to the pace of life was a challenge because I’m conditioned to a more relaxed lifestyle than when I am at school, and as a result, my work pace is slower than usual, despite having the same amount of schoolwork to accomplish. On the bright side, I have my own piano by my side to practice on – no more practicing on uprights or waiting for practice rooms during rush hour at Thornton’s University Gateway Practice Rooms!

PCM: What does a typical day look like for you right now?
EL: A typical day for me usually effectively starts after my first cup of coffee. My classes start at 10 AM on most days, giving me enough time to squeeze in a piano warmup before dashing to my room for an online class. I break between classes to water my beloved house plants and tend to my backyard garden. Taking advantage of the fact that I no longer need to spend time walking to class, I am able to weave my piano practice in between classes and meetings gaining an hour or so of practice time during the day. While I am currently in the thick of the semester wrapping up with final presentations, group projects, and research papers, my family and I always reserve 7-7:30 pm on weekdays for Jeopardy! (we recently watched USC make it to the finals in the College Championship).

PCM: In what ways (large and small) has the current situation impacted your lessons, practice schedule, and music education experience in general?
EL: I now pre-record repertoire for my lessons and studio classes and send them in advance to my professor for evaluation during those respective times. Recently my studio had a discussion about the process of recording and we concluded that the situation has provided us an interesting perspective on recording ourselves for educational purposes. However, it has also led to a bit of cognitive dissonance because while we recognize that lessons are for works-in-progress, we are also naturally inclined to constantly improve. So, we continue to record take after take until ultimately settling on usually the first or second run through.

PCM: What are you most looking forward to when everyone returns to campus? What, if anything, will you miss?
EL: I am looking forward to visible music-making again! Music is inherently a collaborative and social activity and while it can continue during social distancing, it is ultimately better together. 🙂