Classrooms to Greenrooms: A Touring Musician's College Experience

Backstage at a rock club in Portland, ME, I’m trying frantically to connect to WiFi. The signal is weak, and the password is a complex string of alphanumeric gibberish, scrawled with a lazy hand on a faded notepad. Around me, the room is a noisy collage of vocal warmups, phone calls to families far away, and good-natured ribbing about questionable wardrobe decisions. Chaos reigns.


I’m just trying to get to class.


A rock and roll greenroom isn’t the optimal setting for a Zoom call, but it could certainly be worse. So far this semester, I’ve tuned in to class from airport lounges and cafes; hotel rooms and tour vehicles.


I’ve pulled into a rural Vermont gas station desperately attempting to maintain my data connection in the land that 5G forgot. I’ve attended lectures from Montana, New Hampshire, New York, and Missouri. I even smuggled my International Relations textbook onto an airplane by cramming it into my guitar case.


And I wouldn’t change a second of it.


Online classes get their share of grief. Students and teachers alike resent the switch from “college on campus” to “college on camera.” For some students, however, remote learning is the only option that enables us to further our education while continuing to work.


Some jobs have unpredictable schedules or require a lot of travel. Technology helps us stay connected. It’s the only way I could earn my degree without sacrificing the career I love.


It’s also the best way I’ve found so far to avoid lifting heavy amplifiers. Sorry guys, gotta run - I’m late for class!