Music Helps Teens Beat the Quarantine Blues
When the coronavirus quarantine began in mid-March, Palo Alto teen Julia Segal began giving music lessons to entertain her restless 10-year-old sister and help her parents get some work done at home.
Soon, a friend’s parent asked if Julia would offer her services to additional students during their spring break. Forty kids signed up for an online songwriting class Julia had planned for five students.
It didn’t take long for her to realize that “there were a lot of other children who would be interested in learning a new musical skill while they have all this time on their hands. Additionally, there are a lot of teenagers bored during quarantine” who would be happy to teach them, says the Gunn High School junior, who is a classically trained pianist, singer-songwriter and member of the indie pop band Reverie.
Julia started to recruit other musical teens as teachers, and QuaranTunes was born. The site offers online music classes by donation, with all proceeds benefitting the CDC Foundation to fight coronavirus.
Since its start in April, QuaranTunes has signed up more than 120 students from around the world and 70 teachers from throughout the country, as word spreads through media and musician friends Julia made through a summer music camp.
“It’s grown to a scale I never could have imagined,” says Julia, QuaranTunes’ CEO, who so far has raised around $3,000.
As the effort has blossomed, Julia recruited a board of directors and has gotten help from her parents, a lawyer and a Stanford economist. She has also sought help from professional musicians who are giving teacher training to QuaranTunes’ novice staff of volunteer teens and young adults.
QuaranTunes offers lessons on a wide range of instruments from piano to guitar to trumpet, as well as voice, songwriting and music theory and production. The suggested donation for an hourlong lesson is $20-40 – far below the typical rate for one-on-one lessons – but no one is turned away for lack of funds. Most classes take place through Zoom. QuaranTunes is also offering free master classes with professional musicians.
While the effort initially targeted students ages 4 to 14, Julia has started to see sign-ups from older people who are just as bored and restless during shelter in place.
“We have our first lesson with a 65-year-old coming up. She said she has a guitar that was gathering dust, and then she saw us. She’s so excited!” Julia says.
The biggest challenge has just been keeping up with demand, she says, with as many as 50 new lessons being scheduled in a single day.
Julia says she hopes that what started out as a temporary quarantine pastime will last past the shelter in place order.
“We have gotten so much positive feedback,” she says. “More than this being a way to occupy children in quarantine, it’s a way to give music lessons to children who couldn’t otherwise afford them. This has opened up an opportunity for a lot of children. I think the lessons we’re providing are high quality, and the teachers are young and fun, and children can relate to them.”
Music is First! Created by two Bay Area music educators and moms, this nonprofit is sharing free resources, from sing-alongs to instrument making, online to help parents and teachers integrate music into everyday life.
Making Music Fun has curated free music lesson videos for piano, recorder and other instruments.
Palo Alto-based Golden Acorn Music livestreams Simple Songs for Stressful Times every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. on its YouTube channel.
Stanford Live has moved its season online with links to free videos of performances by artists who were scheduled to play including pianist Lang Lang, violinist Max Richter and the Bang on a Can All Stars.
The San Francisco Symphony is offering lots of free content from concerts to documentaries on influential composers.
The Metropolitan Opera streams a different opera each night.