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Social distancing can’t dampen school spirit

The coronavirus global health emergency may have emptied TCNJ’s campus for the semester but it hasn’t stopped the college’s music and voice students from making beautiful collaborations together—albeit virtually. 

Inspired by President Kathryn Foster’s “Lion Strong” email message to campus, Assistant Professor of Music Eric Laprade called on some of TCNJ’s most musical students to brighten spirits by playing the college’s alma mater.

“A typical spring semester is chock-full of activity and culminating events,” Foster said in her message. “There is no getting around the fact that this one will not be typical. With your help and engagement, though, we will keep it meaningful and positive for students, faculty and staff alike, using social media and other opportunities to practice community care, spirit, and resilience.”

Laprade, the director of bands at TCNJ, collaborated with members of the Wind Ensemble, Concert Band, and student vocalists for the project. The students, 96 in total, recorded themselves playing their part to a click track from home. Laprade then combined each clip into a perfectly synched composite rendition that illustrates how beautiful parts can make a perfect whole.

Suzanne Hickman, associate professor of music, and Mark Kalinowski, an adjunct instructor of music, also assisted on the project.

“President Foster’s message inspired me to create experiences that were meaningful and relevant for our music students and might help general school pride and spirit during these challenging times,” Laprade says.

The rendition of the alma mater is just a taste of the music that will be performed by TCNJ student musicians and featured during the college’s remote yet intimate virtual commencement ceremony scheduled for May 21.

“Though we’re not exactly playing together live, this project still retains its value as a collaborative form of art and song,” says Nick Napier, a sophomore music education major. “We were all reminded of how grateful we are to have a wonderful community that surrounds us, both in the music department and campus wide, regardless of how far we are from one another.”

— David Pavlak