Young Musicians Find a Voice during Quarantine

Imagine being a musician with a full agenda planned for the rest of the year. Small gigs, music classes, recordings, and other events fill your days for months. You are excited to be out there, and share your passion with others. It is everything you live for, and so much more. But suddenly, that bright light in your future dims. COVID-19 has suddenly cleared up your schedule, canceling all the events you’ve been looking forward to. You are left with no direction and lots of spare time. Where do you go from there?

In a broader sense, the music industry has taken a hit from the virus, and is currently struggling to adjust. Many musicians are delaying their music releases because tours and concerts, events that usually promote their music, have been canceled. According to the World Economic Forum, physical sales, which represent a quarter of recorded music revenues, are down by about one-third.  If you dive deeper, not only is the music industry struggling economically, but  musicians themselves are facing numerous obstacles when it comes to their daily routine of creating. 

Teen singer-song writer Izzy Potter

“The biggest challenge of creating music during the pandemic, especially at the height of when everything first started, was definitely not being able to get into the studio to record anything, as well as not being able to hang out with my musical friends and play together, do performances, or gather together to write songs,” said Isabel Potter, a teen singer and songwriter from Long Island. 

For Potter, the pandemic helped stimulate her creativity. She was able to release her EP “Place Called Home” on September 12, 2021. 

“I was very inspired to write a lot since I was essentially alone in my house all the time like everyone else,” Potter said. “I wrote a ton of new songs, one which is called “Juniper”. It is one of my more popular songs, and I am very proud of it. I also used the time at home to think about  future ideas for what kind of songs I wanted to write and create.”

Those weren’t the only impacts the pandemic had on her creativity. 

“I started to write songs that were a little bit less about romance and more about missing people like friends, and old experiences,” she said.

In a way, the pandemic also helped jumpstart her social media activity. Because people were home essentially all day, there was more time to work on projects and goals. This was the case for Potter, who really started taking her Instagram and Tiktok more seriously during the pandemic because she realized that if she was going to be serious about having a career in music, she needed to start promoting herself on social media. 

Like Potter, Francis Lewis freshman Xavier Velez (also known as “Xential”) had similar struggles and changes to his music.


“I had a hard time getting the exact sound that I wanted,” Velez stated.  “I couldn’t go to a studio because of the pandemic and because I couldn’t afford it at the time. So I had to record off of my phone. The recordings sounded good considering the fact that I did it on my phone, but it wasn’t the exact sound that I wanted.”

However, being stuck in quarantine also prompted Velez to start taking a few bold steps forward in his music journey. 

“Before the pandemic, I used to rely on other people in terms of my music,” Velez said. “But because of the pandemic, I was forced to be inside more and inside of my own mind, which helped me to learn how to be more independent with music. I write and produce everything by myself.”

The influence of the pandemic over Velez ran even deeper though than just this newfound independence. Just like Potter, the messages behind his songs changed as he was faced with new experiences and emotions. 

“The first song I made was about things that were on my mind,” Velez said. 

“I was going through a little bit, and the general messages I based my songs on were to not trust people and to stay to yourself. But now I’m expressing more happy messages instead of sad ones because people already make a lot of negative music, so I wanted to stray away from that a little bit.”

Velez’s advice for budding musicians that are trying to kick start their music is to create what you want, but also take constructive criticism from other people. 

“At the end of the day, other people are going to listen to your music, not just you,” Velez added. “So you want to get other people’s opinions on what they think about your music, but at the same time you want to keep it to how you like it as well.”

The impact of the pandemic on musicians has also spread into the school environment. One of the issues that music teachers faced was teaching music over Zoom. 

“I want to be honest. When we first started Zoom, I was lost,” chorus teacher Ms. Gjermeni said. “It’s been hard, learning how to use technology. It always evolves, and every year we see new things.

“Being a busy teacher, you don’t always have time to become updated with everything,” Ms. Gjermeni added. “When we tried to sing together over Zoom, all the voices weren’t synchronized because of the lag. There was no togetherness.”

Ms. Gjermeni also described the struggle of maintaining a quality choir. She talked about how in the past, in order to get into concert choir, students would have to have some previous musical knowledge and experience. But because of the pandemic, they have been more lenient with these standards. 

“It changed the quality,” she said, “But I consider myself lucky with how well my students have worked on their singing.” 

Despite these challenges, Ms. Gjermeni and Potter have shown that staying positive and having a strong mindset can help tremendously. 

“It just made me happy that we could do something because I thought that I wasn’t going to be able to teach music at all, and I wanted to do my job,” Ms. Gjermeni said. “If there is a will, there is a way. We may not have been in the classroom, but the most important part was that I was able to teach and make beautiful music.”

For some musicians, their career started to take off because of the pandemic. This was the case for Jasper Smith, a 17 year old budding songwriter and producer.

“I don’t think I’d be where I am now if Covid didn’t exist,” Smith said. “Being in quarantine during early 2020 gave me time to explore my music and expand my creativity as a whole. As I look back on old videos of myself, I’ve realized the amount of confidence I have now is astonishing compared to then.”

“Over the pandemic, I have increasingly become more interested in music recording and production, and using the equipment I received from the Christmas prior,” Smith added. “This led me to release my first song on SoundCloud.”

He has found that the pandemic benefited his creativity more than hurt it. 

There were few musical struggles over the pandemic for me,” Smith said. “I had more time to involve myself in my passion, and overall, I think I’m quite lucky to be in the situation I am now.” 

According to Smith, one thing he learned about himself and music was that it’s most important to write music for himself first.

“It’s somewhat talked about in a few of my songs such as ‘Etc.’ and ‘where did the days go’, and it’s the main reason I keep going,” Smith added. “I know I have people who enjoy what I create, but if I’m not doing it for myself, what’s the point? We all deserve to put ourselves first and do something that makes us happy.”