My morning routine as a college student has become so calculated that it looks more like the directions to assemble furniture than a flow of motions: wake up, brush teeth, put in headphones, brew coffee, listen to a podcast, and then select the music playlist that best fits the vibe of the day and leave for class.
As I walk around campus, I cannot help but notice how many other students are wearing headphones. A lot has changed since the pandemic has begun: every school day essentially feels the same. People say “Zoom fatigue” to the point where it is just as common as saying “good morning,” and student burnout is at an all-time high. However, people’s desire to listen to music remains unfazed.
Sheri Cheng, LSEHD ‘22, has found the lack of academic breaks to be challenging, especially as BC nears the end of its spring semester.
“It’s very draining because we don’t have the same opportunities to release our stress in ways that we have been able to before,” Cheng said.
As the academic and extracurricular responsibilities continue to pile up, Cheng finds solace in music. She built a special relationship with it at a young age due to her involvements in ice skating, dance, and instrument performances. While it has been with her for a long time, she found the pandemic has initiated connections between her and smaller artists like never before.
Cheng mentioned how she thought this unprecedented time has given these artists a unique chance to share their voices with the world. Lizzie McAlpine is just one of the several singers who Cheng came across on TikTok.
“People are able to make music more frequently and use TikTok or whatever social media platform to get big. So I’ve been listening to a lot of smaller artists recently,” Cheng reflected.
Jameson Lehrer, MCAS ‘22, has had a different experience throughout this burnout period. As a member of BC’s club rowing team, he is used to spending spring break working with the team and getting up early every morning to row rather than relaxing at home.
“I’m not that overloaded right now. I feel like I’m doing what I’ve usually been doing. From that standpoint, I feel fine, but I know why students are not doing very well right now,” Lehrer described.
Even though his interest in music began during his junior year of high school, Lehrer has listened to music less in the past year. He does not study with it in the background or navigate through campus with headphones. However, he admitted to playing Twenty One Pilots often and listening to Linkin Park when he has to cook.
On the outside watching in is Michael Serazio, professor in the Communication department. While he believes that limiting the opportunities to travel is an efficient way to decrease the spread of the virus, he cannot help but notice the change in the overall mood among the undergraduates.
“As a professor, I feel empathy and I feel bad for how hard it is for students. I can feel the energy being drained,” Serazio said.
Serazio recalled his journey with music and how it has come to mean everything to him today. In high school, classic rock and rock and roll caught his attention. In college, he discovered hip-hop and electronic dance music. When he comes across a new song that he likes, he often connects that to the musical genres that were hits in the 1980s.
“The music you get into in high school and college is the music that stays with you your whole life to some degree. It’s so embedded in the memories of those times,” Serazio reflected.
As the BC community continues to interact with music throughout this burnout period, it is important to appreciate the songs that have brought people closer together at a time when they are so far apart. “Blinding Lights” by The Weeknd has become monumental for Serazio. Due to his daughter’s passion for the song as well as its composition that contains aspects of his preferred 1980s tunes, he has often found himself listening to it and he thinks that it will continue to be a part of many people’s lives.
“It is a song that we’re going to be playing at weddings for decades to come. It is an extraordinary piece of music,” Serazio said with excitement.