Stay-at-Home Diaries | Amy Rowe, Piano Faculty

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.

Woman at computer

PCM: Where are you right now and who are you with?
AR: I am currently at my parents’ house in Glendora, CA. It’s sort of a compound here at the moment. My parents and I are in the front house, my younger sister is living in the back studio, and my older sister & husband are living in the back house. It’s quite nice to spend time with my sisters, who are also piano players. We have been doing some fun collaborations both musically and with cooking. My mom has been enjoying having us back home, and has been very inspired with her cooking as well!

PCM: How are you feeling and how have you adjusted to life at home?
AR: I have experienced a wide range of emotions over the weeks. In the first half of March, I had a friend (34) who passed away from COVID-19, and that made the first few weeks of March very somber. Up until March, my life was going 1,000 miles per hour, and looking back, I don’t know how I was doing so many things in a day! My initial emotion to the changes was relief because I was tired — physically, mentally, and spiritually. Over the weeks, I’ve felt grief (loss of my old lifestyle and performing), sadness (loss of a friend), baffled (shocked at the changes), confused (can’t wrap my head around everything), overwhelmed (not knowing how this will affect the future), lucky (to have a family to be with), guilt (that I still have work, when so many people have no job). But, I am still a happy person and grateful for good health!

I have finally started feeling more motivated in April, and I have adjusted at my home life by working at trying to keep a better structure. I have been working on having a daily routine (which was hard to do when gigging), and keeping my personal space clean and organized. There are pros and cons living again with parents, but I am doing my best to keep a positive attitude even when it gets down to the nitty-gritty.

Woman giving a virtual piano lesson on computer

PCM: What does a typical day look like for you right now?
AR: I have been *trying* to go to sleep earlier, but I usually go to sleep by 2am, and wake up around 9:30am. I do my morning pages (3 pages of non-stop writing of anything on my mind), stretching/yoga, and start a prep for something to eat for lunch or dinner. I am usually teaching in the afternoon hours, and I try to do work outside for a few hours before it gets dark- cleaning the property, working on the garden/yardwork, taking dogs on a walk, etc. By the time the sun goes down, I’ll help prepare something for dinner and also do some practicing afterward. I’m trying to move my practice time during the first half of the day for better focus. I’m also tending to all my living cultures in between — kombucha, kefir, sourdough, and yogurt. Even though I’m not working as much, I haven’t felt any less busy at home. The days have been zooming by, and I haven’t had time to watch even 1 episode or movie since quarantine started!

PCM: In what ways (large and small) has the current situation impacted your studio / music educating experience?
AR: This semester I had taken off from teaching classes at Cypress College, so I have only been teaching private lessons. To my surprise, about 90% of my students/studio have continued online and it has been going great! It has allowed me to be more creative with the ways I teach and I have seen just as much, if not more, improvement from my students during this time because they are not tied up with so many activities. I am currently getting prepared for teaching summer school classes online and it’s a different challenge. Fortunately, I got certified for online teaching last summer (for Canvas) to teach online classes, so I feel equipped to switch my classes to an online platform.

PCM: What are you most looking forward to when everyone returns to campus? What, if anything, will you miss?
AR: When we return to campus, I am most looking forward to chatting with the people I work within the hallways or in the break room! Everyone from teachers, office staff, to security. I also look forward to teaching in an undisturbed space; I will not miss the occasional dog barks, people making noise, construction, etc. happening now. It will also be nice to play simultaneously with my students again. I will, however, miss staying in comfortable clothes all day (including wearing slippers while teaching), taking walks throughout the day, and being able to snack at any time.

Woman typing next to a piano