What’s it like recording during COVID?

Hey, all!

I’ve had a really cool opportunity these past two weeks–as well as the next two weeks to come–to spend some productive time with my a cappella group, DJs A Cappella, and the company Liquid 5th in order to record our 1st-place-winning ICCA set from last winter (Think Pitch Perfect).

Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten to take an inside look at how different recording studios are handling the pandemic and the inability to have people face-to-face while recording music. I figured this might be something interesting to some of you, so here we go!

Liquid 5th is the company my a cappella group has worked with for years. Our contact with the company is located in North Carolina, and specializes in working with collegiate a cappella groups. My freshman year we took a road trip down during our spring break in order to finish recording an EP the group had started the previous year, and I can honestly say it’s one of my top 5 college memories.

You can check out that EP here! https://open.spotify.com/album/1vkjsGmjdfUSPqhMegWz1k

During that recording process, we had 5 or 6 members in the studio at once, each in our own sound-proof boxes, and recorded together. Liquid 5th worked closely with our music director and the person who arranged the specific songs we were recording in order to make sure the final product was as close to what we had imagined as possible.


This time around, things are a little different. We’re still working very closely with professionals in order to make sure the outcome of our sessions is high quality, but instead of recording in North Carolina, I have 18 people recording one at a time in my tiny studio apartment off of Liberty Street.

Our contact with Liquid 5th and I had a zoom meeting a week or so ago to install a bunch of super crazy software on my Mac, which not only allows him to control my computer from where he is in North Carolina, but to directly transmit all audio recorded by the equipment here in Ann Arbor to his home studio hundreds of miles away.

Each member of the group has a 2-hour time slot where they are charged with recording their specific voice part for all of the 12 minute set. Instead of singing along simultaneously with other members as we did last time, we sing with a pre-recorded MIDI track of the voice parts on a piano, as well as the vocal tracks of any members who’ve already recorded before us. It’s a little different, but it works.

The equipment we’re using was rented from another contact of the group’s, and we cart it back and forth from the studio to my apartment before and after every day of recording.

In general, it’s meant a lot more of the responsibility for things to go well lands on our individual members of the group. We’ve had to be very on top of scheduling, locations, driving, and drop-off/pick-up times.

Overall, however, we are super psyched to be able to put out new music even though we cannot travel or record like all the past members of this group have in their own respective times as members of the DJs!

If you’d care to give our award-winning set a listen, it can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D6ok1iWRDU

Looking Forward: The Plush Project

Happy Friday, arts, ink readers!

I hope that you’ve all been able to get out and enjoy the sunshine that we’ve had the past few days (at least if you’re in the Ann Arbor area). It’s been giving me just enough of a “light at the end of the tunnel” that Spring may be coming soon after all. 

So far on Looking Forward, I’ve spoken with a lot of organizations that have had to pivot their typical operations due to the pandemic, with many moving traditions, rehearsals, and exhibitions online or finding ways to do them while socially distancing, pre-recording content to share with their members, getting creative with multi-media approaches to projects, and collaborating with other student organizations. But what if you don’t have any “typical operations” yet? How does a new organization pave its way through this overwhelming and complicated time? 

This week I had the pleasure of chatting with Amira Rabbah, President of a new organization on campus called The Plush Project. Over the course of quarantine, Amira found herself looking for new ways to keep herself busy and learn new things — enter: crocheting. She had always loved to knit, and crocheting seemed like a fun, new challenge that was also a continuation of her passion for yarn arts. She was particularly interested in the style of crocheting called amigurumi, which involves crocheting and stuffing different characters, toys, and plushes.

After she had gotten a handle on the technique, she found herself building up quite the collection of handmade toys. Rather than leave them to collect dust on a shelf, she wanted to donate these toys to children who are going through difficult times. This was the beginning of The Plush Project. Soon, Amira realized that yarn arts lovers across campus could contribute to this group, building a sense of community and practicing the hobby while giving children who are in the foster care system or who are sick a sense of comfort. 

After figuring out the administrative hoops of how to form a Voluntary Student Organization (VSO) on campus, Amira applied for a grant through Arts at Michigan to help provide materials to members. This way, she explained, the organization could be as inclusive as possible and not present barriers to potential members who would like to get involved but cannot afford to purchase yarn or needles, etc.

Since forming in the Fall semester, the organization has grown to about 15 members from a variety of experience levels. 

“Mostly, we have some seasoned crochet there’s a couple of new crocheters, but they’ve all, like, been introduced to some sort of yarn or fabric art, at least one of them, so either they sew or knit, all those are good avenues for making plush toys, so it doesn’t have to be crochet but that has happened to be the supplies that we have to give out.”

Although growing and running the organization has perhaps been more difficult than it would be if in-person meetings were possible, Amira has done great work and already set up donation relationships with Orchard Children Services, with the hopes of expanding to other places like Motts hospital in the future. And they’re still growing! Amria welcomes anyone who is interested in crocheting or yarn arts to get in touch:

“We’d love to obviously have more regular members, so if you’re interested in coming to our Zoom, but hopefully later in-person, sessions to crochet, get materials, whatever, the best way would be to email me or find us on one Maize Pages… they’ll both give me an email notification, so both are great ways to, like, reach out. I’ll give you a whole spiel about our organization up the zoom links to our meetings and everything!”

You can reach Amira and learn more about the Plush Project by emailing her at arabbah@umich.edu, or by visiting the Plush Project Maize Page and clicking on the “Contact” button.

I loved learning more about how a new organization has navigated this complicated year, and hearing how dedicated Amira is to this project was really inspiring. Definitely check them out!

That’s all from me today. Remember to take some time for yourself this weekend and decompress – students would typically be enjoying Spring Break right about now and I think a lot of us could use a break.

Take care and stay safe, 


Looking Forward: This Week at the UMMA + New Interviews Soon

Happy Friday, Arts, Ink readers!

After a brief intermission, we will be back in action next week. I’ve spent this week reaching out to many exciting and diverse student organizations to learn more about how they’re handling the semester, and I’m excited to share what I’ve learned so far. 

In the meantime, I thought I would spend this week highlighting some events the UMMA is putting on this week that I found especially exciting.

If you’re a fan of spotify collaborative playlists and/or how art and music intersect, check out UMMA’s jukebox. Through that link you can fill out a form to suggest songs that pair with two of the museum’s newest art pieces. As someone who has always enjoyed interdisciplinary work, I found this project very interesting and I’m excited to see the results!

The UMMA is also putting together a virtual event called “The Adjacent Possible” on Feb. 18th at 8PM. They describe it as “[mixing] music performance, storytelling, and technology that converts the audience into an orchestra. The project culminates in the recording of an orchestral piece – the first and last ever to be performed.” If you need to transport yourself for a little while from the stress of schoolwork or job searches, definitely check it out – it seems like a really unique event. Pre-registration is required, so make sure you confirm ahead of time!

That’s all from me today. Check back next week for an interview with the co-presidents of Relevé – they had some really interesting points to make about the creative process and COVID!

Stay safe!


Making the Most of Second Semester

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know it’s been a long week (even with Monday off) so pat yourself on the back for making it through. Whether your semester seems like it will be a breeze or your hardest one yet, remember to be kind to yourself and find moments for celebration. 

A new semester means a fresh start in many ways, but some people can feel trapped in the extracurricular activities they committed to in the first semester. I wanted to take some time to remind you that most student organizations gladly welcome new members during the second semester. MUSKET is producing a show, Basement Arts is partnering with Blank Space Workshop to produce new work, and many performance groups are holding auditions, just to name a few of the opportunities this semester. 

Even if you don’t have the time or interest in fully joining these organizations, I encourage you to attend their events as much as possible. Not only will it bring some joy into your life and introduce you to new groups and artistic expressions, it will also help support these student groups through what is sure to be another strange semester. With most of their performances being virtual, along with classes, attending these events shows that we still support these groups, even if we can’t cheer them on in person. 

So in the next couple of weeks, I challenge you to scroll through MaizePages and jot down a couple of organizations you’re interested in learning more about. Then, see what day they’ll be attending the virtual Winterfest and have some questions ready – maybe about the process for joining, or what their plans are for this semester. Finally, as you’re scrolling through Instagram or walking around campus and you see an advertisement for an upcoming arts event, add it to your calendar. That way you won’t forget, and when it comes along maybe you’ll put aside your homework for an hour or two to experience the creativity our campus has. Think of it as a new form of self-care. 

That’s all from me this week. Good luck to everyone in their classes!

– Lucy

A Song for Reflecting on a Virtual Thanksgiving

I wrote this short song in the past few days while thinking about the experiences I’ve heard my friends tell me about their own personal family Thanksgivings. Each person’s situation was a little different, but each was far from the normal holiday they are used to sharing with their loved ones. This song is somewhat personal to me, but also incorporates elements/thoughts of individuals I’ve spoken with in the past week or so.

Good Things in Bad Times:

I see the faces round the table except this year they’re all alone

And the smiles that all greet me smile at me through the phone

There is stuffing on the counter, there is turkey in the fridge

Nana’s jello’s in the freezer, I wish that I could have a dish


And my cousins all were waving, but my FaceTime camera froze

Now each member of the family’s frozen in a crazy pose

My sister’s fork is halfway to her mouth, my mother sips her tea

Papa’s hand is in the cookie jar, well that one’s no surprise to me


And we look back to yesterdays and our family face to face

Whoever said that distance makes the heart grow fonder

Can rest assured that no one doubts him any longer


Now seven people all are talking and I can’t understand a word

Can someone teach aunt Betty now please how her iPhone works

And despite all of our warnings, about coffee cups and Macs

Uncle Billy spilled all over his new computer that’s a fact


And we’re looking back to yesterdays and our family face to face

Whoever said that distance makes the heart grow fonder

Can rest assured that no one doubts him any longer


And it’s hard to be thankful for good things in bad times

But this is the moment to reflect on all our lives

Cause 2020 wasn’t all bad all the time

And we’re thankful for the good in the bad times

You know I’m right


I see the faces round the table except this year I’m not at home

but when you have a family like mine you’re never all alone


And we’re looking back to yesterdays and our family face to face

Whoever said that distance makes the heart grow fonder

Can rest assured that no one doubts him any longer

No one doubts him any longer

Looking Forward: APG Presents

Hey arts, ink readers!

Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a chance to recharge over the break, whether you celebrated Turkey Day or not. The holidays look a little different this year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make the best out of them and still find ways to connect to friends and family (albeit virtually). 

This week I had the chance to talk to Katie Lorenz, a member of APG (Arbor Promotion Group) Presents, about how the org is adapting to the year as well as how she views the arts scene on campus acclimating to the health and safety guidelines. Read on to learn more!

Founded in 2018, APG Presents is one of the more recent groups to enter the music scene on campus. They have two main focuses: producing and promoting live events, and helping students in the organization with professional development. In a typical year, they help put on shows at Necto and other venues around campus, bring in speakers from the industry to talk to members of their organization or the larger UofM community, and help with resumes, internship searches, and interview prep. They currently have over 50 members, with leadership opportunities for those interested in learning more hands-on about the industry. 

This year, APG Presents has had to pivot, as all of us have, but they’ve done a great job of maintaining much of their usual programming. They’ve moved their weekly meetings to be virtual, as well as their professional development programs. Their live music events have also been moved virtual, but have been able to shift to include things like artist Q&As as well. Katie explained that, although it’s obviously a bummer that they can’t all be together and produce their normal concerts, there have been bright sides to the changes, too. “Virtual experiences do a great job for [these] events of bringing people to us who might not have been able to, like, fly to us directly, people all across the world… So I think that’s been working in our favor kind of this year.” If you’ve read other posts from Looking Forward, this is a theme that a lot of people have come to notice over the pandemic – the musical theatre department, the Shapiro Design Lab, and now APG Presents. The limitations of geographical barriers seem to be non-existent now, and it will be interesting to see if that trend continues once things start returning to “normal”. 

I also asked Katie to share her thoughts on the state of the arts on campus right now. She told me that she sees creativity and the

10/1/20 UMMA Ibrahim Mahama Exhibit installation (via UMMA website)

way that arts organizations on campus have expressed themselves during this time as being really interesting – people are finding new ways to commit to their ideas and what they stand for. One example she brought up is the UMMA showing support for the Black Lives Matter Movement. If you’ve walked by the UMMA recently, you may have noticed that half of it is covered in stitched-together canvas sacks. This is by artist Ibrahim Mahama and is meant to “[celebrate] the often-invisible labor of Black and brown people behind global exchange and commerce while acknowledging the troubling histories of colonialism and slavery in the Western world,” (from the UMMA website). Personally, I found this interesting because although I had walked by this installation many times, I didn’t really understand what it was saying. Katie’s comment reminded me that there is always something to uncover about the arts on campus, always something new to experience, and that gives me a lot of hope for the year ahead. 

If you’d like to learn more about APG Presents and stay up-to-date on their future events, be sure to follow their Instagram @APGPresents and their LinkedIn page. If you’re interested in joining the organization, you can email Talia Rizika at trizika@umich.edu

If you wanna read more about the UMMA installation I mentioned, you can check it out here


That’s all from me this week. I hope you have an amazing rest of your week and stay safe!