Hand-holding is the last thing anyone should do during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a Shepherd School violin student won’t let social distancing stop her from doing what she does best.

Although her university has discontinued classroom instruction for the spring semester, Allison Smith is applying her talents to a series of homebound musical performances called #CoronaCovers. On her YouTube channel, the sophomore and her pianist brother Nathan, a high school senior in their hometown of Dublin, Ohio, play instrumental versions of popular songs, including the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand.”

Smith, who has been playing the violin since she was five, said she and her brother created their #CoronaCovers series a few weeks ago to “spread a little bit of love through music during these difficult, scary times.”

“When I would have recitals in high school, we would find a song that we both liked and then arrange it ourselves,” she said. “And my brother actually has perfect pitch, so he’s even better at it than I am. He works out the chords and then I normally play the melody over top. It’s been fun putting these songs together.”

Other songs in the series include “Dear Theodosia” from “Hamilton”; “Rainbow” by Kacey Musgraves; and “Magic” by Rude.

Smith is a student of Paul Kantor, the Sallie Shepherd Perkins Professor of Violin at Rice, and a Dorothy Richard Starling Foundation Scholarship in Violin recipient.

“Whenever there is a difficult time in the world, music is a way to access people and to basically communicate in a way that words can’t,” she said. “But unfortunately, at a time like this when we have to separate ourselves from people, it all kind of has to be done virtually. I’m sure people have seen concerts being canceled and symphonies having to post livestreams of performances or post archived performances. It’s been difficult, but we’ve been, at least my brother and I and other musician friends of mine, have tried to find ways to adapt to this new normal for right now by sharing things via social media.”

Watch more videos from Allison and Nathan Smith here.

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