Something magical happens when people come together to enjoy music. We’ve all experienced that perceptible improvement in our mood and feeling of connection with those around us. And science backs this up: according to several studies, listening to music and singing together have been shown to release certain chemicals in the brain that play a role in feelings of closeness and connection.
After spending more than a month in isolation due to stay-at-home orders issued across the country, Booth students came together on a Friday night to watch live-streamed performances by several of our very own great musical talents. It was the first Living Room Festival, a testament to the student body’s creativity and commitment to building community in these unprecedented times.
As soon as the reality of social distancing set it, the Booth Slack channels exploded with ideas for keeping everyone connected. Building off this creative energy, the GBC’s LPF team – whose mission is to promote events to strengthen our Booth’s student body community – reached out to AudioBooth in early April to see if we would help organize an intimate, virtual music event. We were thrilled to hear from LPF because AudioBooth was already having conversations internally about planning a similar event. From that point on, the two groups worked together, and on April 24th, we were thrilled to hold the first Living Room Festival!
The concept seemed pretty straightforward: have a musician play in front of a webcam and tell everyone to tune in to the stream. Simple enough in theory, but the logistics proved to be full of
fun challenges. How do we engage enough performers? How do we want the event to look and feel? What’s the best platform and hardware to make it happen? What’s the best way to communicate to and captivate the student body?
AudioBooth’s team learned and tested three different live platforms and conducted around 10 soundchecks to teach the performers and test the equipment. The teams discussed several formats and different content to add to the event, and we ultimately decided to stream the performances over YouTube while hosting a number of Zoom meetings in parallel so that people could react, share, and connect with each other during and between performances.
And the result was beautiful! We had 5 performances of about 15 minutes each, ranging from emo and country to Disney songs and ballads. We had singers, guitarists, a pianist, and even ukulele! The performers amazed us all with great talents (kudos to the real heroes of the night). Between live comments and reactions on the YouTube chat and toasts in the Zoom chat rooms, we had a delightful Friday night. The videos are available on AudioBooth’s YouTube channel (with over a thousand views so far!)
With social distancing and a fully remote quarter, one could think that Booth events and student engagement would come to a halt. But no—every week our community sees new events and concepts being promoted by student groups, GBC, the administration, and even by individual initiatives! We’ve seen cooking classes, workout sessions, language practice groups, affinity group parties, remote dinners, social media challenges, and so many other events, all happening on a regular basis.
Creativity, resourcefulness, and a commitment to keep this community strong during difficult times are visible every single day, and it has been so important for each of us, individually and collectively. The classes of 2020 and 2021 will be tied inextricably to this pandemic, but we are so proud to see everyone doing their best to make us some of the most inventive and close-knit classes.
AudioBooth is the student-led music group at Booth, and we’re all about music, from all perspectives—from musicians in rock bands to those who just enjoy going to live performances or sharing a great playlist! At this time of the year we usually have our greatest event, the Battle of the Bands. Although we will be unable to share this event with the Booth community this year, we still believe in the power of music to provide positive energy and bring us closer together. We will continue to do our best to showcase Booth’s incredible musical talent throughout this quarter, so stay tuned! Stay safe, everyone, and rock on.