Dear Music Students,
As we look forward to face to face classes resuming in a month, I wanted to share some of the things we will be doing to help keep everyone safe. As you likely are aware, music making involves a lot of unique challenges during this pandemic. There are different challenges depending on the activity. So, for instance, singing presents greater risk of virus transmission than does playing a string instrument since it generates a greater amount of droplets and aerosols. For that reason, there will be a variety of approaches associated with specific activities. With everyone’s cooperation and adherence to guidelines, we should all be able to continue to have a high quality musical experience despite some required changes in procedures.
Your classes will likely be a mixture of face to face, hybrid (some f2f, some online) and fully online. We are striving to achieve an 80% face to face/hybrid set of offerings. In the case of hybrid classes, there may be a number of different approaches including having a portion of the class come on one day while the others come to the next session. Each class will inform you of its plan. Face to face classes will meet in larger spaces so that social distancing can be achieved.
We will expect everyone to wear a face covering while in buildings including in practice rooms. The only exception is for times when you are actively performing and your instrument requires that the covering be removed.
Some applied lessons will have to be conducted remotely while others will continue face to face. We are working with the goal that at a minimum students will have a face to face lesson experience every other week and a remote lesson alternate weeks. In some cases there will be more face to face lessons than that and in others, it may not be possible to meet that goal. Most small seminars/studio classes will meet face to face, but the large seminars such as Wind and Percussion will not meet. Your applied teacher will let you know the activity that will take its place.
We are in the process of installing webcams, microphones and computers in a number of practice rooms in Russell and the GBPAC. Since some lessons will be handled remotely, these spaces will be available for students to use to make recordings or do synchronous lessons, depending on the individual instructor.
We are planning to have large ensembles, though there will be some changes for the fall. For instrumental ensembles excluding Panther Marching Band, we have ordered dividers so that each player will be flanked on three sides by a clear vinyl panel. The performers will be at distances of 6-15 feet apart and will be expected to wear face coverings except when performance requires its removal. Playing time in rehearsals will be limited to 40 minutes per hour with 20 minutes unoccupied time for the space to settle. Ensemble members will not be allowed to play in the rehearsal space before or after rehearsal in order to maximize the available time for rehearsals. In some cases, ensembles will not be as large as usual. All instrumental ensembles have been moved to larger spaces for rehearsals but remain at their scheduled times.
Choral ensembles will also be functioning with slightly different approaches for each group. Face coverings will be worn while singing and the ensembles will be in larger spaces than usual. Each ensemble director will send information to the students in their ensemble with specific directions.
Users will be expected to clean any shared surfaces such as music stands before and after each use. Hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies will be available in designated locations in the buildings.
At this time, we are planning for recitals to resume in the fall, however, it is not yet clear if we will allow audiences or if performances will be streamed only. For large ensemble concerts, it is not yet clear. It is likely that things will vary for each ensemble and each performance venue. The ensemble directors and I are still working through these details.
It will take all of our collaborative efforts to make it possible for us to return to our face to face operations. It will be critical that each of us follow guidelines so that we can continue to have the opportunity to resume our music making and music education. These are unprecedented times for all of us, but together we will work through the various challenges until we are able to resume a greater degree of normalcy. Also, realize that what I have shared is our current plan and it is very likely to change as the situation changes and as we learn more.
A music building should not be as quiet as ours have been these past four months. It’s time to turn up the music!!
We are really looking forward to having you back on campus!
All the Best!
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA 50614