Young Musicians Do Their Part During the Pandemic

Northeast  |  June 10, 2020

Written by Richard Chuang
Edited by Ida Eva Zielinska

Extra! Extra! To do their part against the pandemic by bringing joy and comfort to the community, senior members of the Tzu Chi Youth Orchestra Long Island recorded a song that will premiere tonight. Everyone, please invite friends, families, and neighbors to join us online at 9:00 PM.

This announcement from Richard Chuang, Executive Director of Tzu Chi Youth Orchestra Long Island and Principal of Tzu Chi Academy Long Island, marked the completion of a creative project undertaken with love by a group of young musicians.

These senior members of the youth orchestra, some of whom are students of the academy, wanted to express gratitude for the doctors, nurses, scientists, and volunteers, who are working so hard to help all of us during the pandemic, and also to offer some comfort and joy to everyone during this challenging time.

Richard Chuang shares the story of what happened…

The United States is the epicenter of this global novel coronavirus pandemic. New York is the epicenter of this epicenter. While frontline workers leave their homes to fight the outbreak, millions of people are suffering from its impact. As news of people around us getting infected reached us, fear slowly crept into our minds. Members of the orchestra kept thinking, what can they do for others?

The musicians then began to discuss how to perform a song to comfort people’s restless hearts when everyone can only meet online. Ethan, a student of Tzu Chi Academy Long Island but not a member of the orchestra, organized this online concert with love to alleviate everyone’s anxiety. (He joins each of the orchestra’s tours with his parents since his mother is one of the conductors.)

Senior members of the orchestra coordinated the recording of each member performing. When they began the production, they found they had to overcome many challenges in achieving consistency between each person’s recording quality, audio volume, image quality, speed, and facial expression. Even the rhythm of each person’s performance could have some minor differences, so everyone had to record multiple times.

The post-production process to mix audio with video was equally demanding, but they persevered. For two weeks, orchestra members conducted online meetings after going to school online to discuss, edit video, mix audio, translate, and type subtitles. Overall, they spent a total of 88 hours to produce this event. Sometimes I could hear them work and discuss past midnight.

I am so grateful that this group of young people was willing to work together for the community. Besides growing closer in their friendship, they hope this video will spread love through music so essential workers and those suffering from the illness can feel some comfort and support.

It was really special to see that we could spread the message of hope and compassion even from home.

I was very grateful for this experience of being able to be a part of putting this video together. We have all done our part to make sure that this video would be good and thoughtful.

As Richard Chuang looked back at the project from the perspective of his role as Principal of Tzu Chi Academy, he was also appreciative of his teaching staff, as he explains:

We taught these musicians to be grateful and to express that. I am so touched that they can now overcome many challenges to take their gratitude and thoughtfulness and turn them into real actions. Because of this pandemic, we saw the beautiful influence the education these young people are receiving at the Tzu Chi Academy has had on their spiritual strength and moral character. 

Our lives are different now from the past. These young people not only adapted to their new way of life but also thought of helping others through their musical performance. Music can calm our mind and body, and this is especially important during this tumultuous time. Music also has no borders. I hope their music will spread to all corners of the world.

May their musical message flourish, indeed.

This project shows that we can all find a part to play in supporting our communities during the pandemic. Join hands with Tzu Chi USA to help those struggling at this time, and together, we will make a difference in their lives.

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