Lifting spirits with songs – and safety equipment

Making masks and making music may not have much in common, but they’re both in a day’s activities for Erin Gilmore, known around the School of Dentistry as a multi-talented, can-do senior technical support assistant.

“I had watched my friends and colleagues using their seamstress skills to create facemasks and other PPE for front line workers and I was amazed,” Gilmore said. “I am a beginning seamstress, but I thought I would try to just make some for my family. After talking with other close friends and family I realized they didn’t have any either, including my parents. So I started making masks. It relit my love of sewing and I have been working on other projects.”

Gilmore also gives music lessons, performs at her church and is working on a second master’s degree in music. The stay-at-home restrictions of recent weeks have made her adapt how she does all that, but she has adjusted to the challenges.

“Unlike some lecture classes, my music lessons rely on direct feedback,” she said, and the half-second delays common online make that difficult. “To combat the delay, I send weekly recordings of scales and music for my students to practice with. Then when we ‘meet’ they sing along to the track or they sing it a cappella, which allows me to listen and fix issues.”

Delays aren’t a problem for her church work, though, as music can be assembled in advance for the services, which are online.

“I am lucky to have a paying church gig, and I have been able to record weekly solos and hymns in my little recording setup,” she said. “I get the recording/accompaniment from my pianist, I record with that track in my ear, and then I send a video to our music director, who puts them together into a video so we sync up. It has been going really well!”

All the while, Gilmore has been doing as much work as possible from home for the School of Dentistry. At the school, she administers ExamSoft testing, does software support and helps with academic and administrative graphics projects from scientific posters to photography.