Moores student Alisiya Boiko adjusts to playing in pandemic

Piano performance junior Alisiya Boiko has spent the pandemic adjusting to online classes and rehearsals. | Courtesy of Alisiya Boiko.

Piano performance junior Alisiya Boiko has spent the pandemic adjusting to online classes and rehearsals. | Courtesy of Alisiya Boiko

Piano performance junior Alisiya Boiko had a passion for music long before she stepped foot on the UH campus. 

Born and raised in Ukraine, Boiko began playing piano at age three with her mother’s encouragement. Listening to her mother, a music teacher, play music and teach her classes laid the foundation for Boiko’s love for playing piano. 

Music and the arts have grown to become part of Boiko’s lifestyle. She spent her childhood taking music classes, as well as art and theatre lessons. 

Pursuing higher education

Boiko moved to Poland at age 12, where she met several other Ukranians studying music. They urged her to pursue a music career at the Moores School of Music, where several of their friends studied, citing that they loved the faculty and had ample opportunities for financial aid. 

“(My friends) told me all about how UH is a great school with great people and is based in a diverse city,” said Boiko. “Houston is a great place to show your talent, to gain experience. A great place for opportunity.”

She notes that the opportunity to study at Moores comes with a rigorous practice schedule. 

“We don’t just have classes, we have additional rehearsals too,” Boiko said. “All free time, if we have any, is spent practicing.” 

Outside of class, Boiko practices piano for annual competitions held by the Moores School of Music and sings with the Concert Chorale choir. She won the Moores School Concerto Competition last year for her playing of Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in E flat major. 

Adapting to the new normal 

When the pandemic shifted classes online in Spring 2020, Boiko transitioned to playing the upright piano in her home. But the pivot to online learning was not without challenges, such as the alteration of sound on virtual platforms, which can create hindrances in receiving feedback for her work. 

“It was a huge emotional and motivational challenge. I’ll be brave enough to say that it impacted everyone in the music industry, not only negatively, but it did impact everyone,” Boiko said. “We are so used to human contact, to rehearsals, to concerts, to face-to-face classes.” 

When Hy-Flex course options became available in Fall 2020, Boiko returned to in-person classes and rehearsals. Students and professors wore masks and engaged in social distancing in classes where sharing instruments and working in enclosed spaces to optimize acoustics was the norm. 

Boiko also reunited with the Concert Chorale choir during the fall semester, donning a unique face mask to avoid sounding muffled while singing, while also preventing the spread of coronavirus through aerosols. 

Boiko plans to pursue a masters degree in piano performance following graduation, but also hopes to explore other genres in music. 

“I’m really thankful I came to Houston,” Boiko said. 

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