Office of the Dean of the Conservatory

COVID-19 and 2020-21 Academic Year Frequently Asked Questions

As we continue to respond to COVID-19 for the 2020-21 academic year, it is our goal to provide an in-person experience, as safely as possible, and for as many students as we can. These plans are contingent upon the Governor of Ohio’s directives, the spread of COVID-19 in Ohio, and the guidance of health professionals.

Please check this page frequently. Information will be updated as needs arise.

Applied Study Guidelines

How will private lessons take place?

As a general rule, private lessons (with the exception of voice) for students studying on campus will take place in person. Specific considerations, however, may require lessons to be conducted remotely, either periodically or regularly. For example, some faculty members or students may elect to conduct lessons remotely due to personal considerations. In other instances, commuting faculty may need to conduct some lessons remotely due to travel restrictions.

Students are encouraged to be in touch with their teachers as soon as possible for additional information about faculty members’ specific plans for lessons. Likewise, faculty members are strongly encouraged to inform their students about their plans for private study for the upcoming semester.

What are the guidelines for instrumental private study?

For string, keyboard, wind, brass, and percussion in both classical & jazz, the following protocols will be required:

  • Masking: Masks/face coverings required for all individuals. Updates on protocols for masking for wind and brass instruments can be found below.
  • Distance: Physical distancing of 12 feet for winds and brass players must be maintained. For all other instrumentalists, 6 feet must be maintained.
  • Room vacancy (for lessons involving wind and brass players): For wind and brass lessons, lessons must be followed by the following minimum room vacancies:
    • Vacancy of at least 30 minutes following lessons taking place in Bibbins or Kohl halls (including faculty studios).
    • Vacancy of at least 60 minutes (1 hour) following lessons taking place in Central or Robertson halls (including Kulas and Warner halls), Finney Chapel, Fairchild Chapel, Cat in the Cream, or any other campus space not identified above. 
  • Real-time rooms: Faculty members may teach lessons and/or engage accompanists for their students using the real-time technology newly installed in several rooms in the Conservatory. Each pair of rooms comprises two studios connected with high-fidelity audiovisual equipment and microphones. Musicians in these separate rooms may interact virtually in real time and high fidelity. Please talk with your studio teacher for more information regarding department specific real-time rooms in voice, jazz, strings, and piano. For real-time room reservations outside these divisions, please contact the Concert Production Office. Room vacancy periods, as detailed above, must be maintained between uses.

General/miscellaneous:

  • Faculty and students are encouraged to use plexiglass shields and other barriers as desired. Doing so does not replace mask use as outlined above.
  • Brass players should be mindful when emptying their instruments’ water keys (or “spit valves”) or emptying condensation from their instruments. Collect condensation in a disposable paper towel, or in a reusable towel that’s disinfected after each use.
  • Flute players are strongly encouraged to use a “Win-D-Fender,” provided by the school, in lessons and ensemble rehearsals/performances.
  • Faculty and students are responsible for wiping down music stands, chairs, and other shared surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson.
  • Only students who are formally studying on campus (and, who are participating in the campus’ full suite of health and safety provisions, including testing) may take lessons in person; students who have elected to study remotely for the semester may not conduct any portion of their study (e.g., private lessons) in person.

Masking requirement for woodwind and brass players (updated January 2021):

Starting in Spring 2021, woodwind and brass players must remain masked at all times—even when playing—while in ensemble settings (two or more players playing simultaneously; private lessons and soloist/piano accompanist excluded). Additionally, brass players must use bell covers in ensemble settings.

  • To facilitate this new requirement, the Conservatory has recently purchased masks specially designed for woodwind and brass players. Working with woodwind and brass studio faculty, we bought different styles and types of masks for different instrumentalist groups, on faculty members’ advice. We purchased two masks per student. We’ve also purchased one bell covering per student for brass players. The masks and bell covers should arrive during the first week of the semester, during which instruction will take place remotely; thus, students should have these masks in-hand by the start of in-person instruction on February 8.
  • NOTE: Brass players may remove bell covers as needed in ensemble settings for purposes of muting.
  • In addition to this new masking requirement, all other protocols from Fall 2020—with regard to distancing (minimum 12 feet of distancing for woodwind and brass players), mandatory room-vacancy and air-exchange periods, and more—remain in effect.
  • This requirement extends to all ensemble settings (two or more players playing simultaneously; private lessons excluded), including large ensembles, jazz combos, chamber groups, brass choir, big band, ensemble performances taking place during studio class or on recital programs, Jazz Forum, orchestral repertoire classes, ad hoc or elective chamber groups or jazz combos, and more.
  • For degree recitals and studio class, woodwind and brass players may perform unmasked (as in Fall 2020), provided that everyone else in the space is masked and distanced appropriately. Performers must wear their masks whenever they are not playing (e.g., during studio class).
  • This policy does not apply to faculty-taught private lessons. Students may remain unmasked during private lessons, provided that all other existing protocols are followed. Faculty and student may play together simultaneously, unmasked, for brief periods of time within the context of a private lesson. As before, individuals should wear their masks as soon as possible and take effort to minimize the amount of simultaneous playing (so as to curb aerosolization). All existing requirements regarding mandatory room-vacancy and air-exchange periods must be adhered to (30-min. minimum room-vacancy periods for rooms in Bibbins Hall and the Kohl Building; 60-min. minimum vacancy periods everywhere else
  • Some students may prefer to use their own instrumentalist masks in lieu of the masks provided by the school. If you would like to use your own instrumentalist mask, please consult with your studio teacher first to ensure that the mask affords the same level of coverage as the ones provided by the school. In general, masks must continuously cover the nose and provide the greatest reasonable coverage of the mouth area while playing. If you have additional questions, please consult the Conservatory Dean’s Office.  
What are the guidelines for private study in voice?

Please see the Voice Division FAQ and the Jazz Division FAQ on this page.

How will instrumental ensembles and studio classes take place?

Information about large ensemble completion is included in the Academic Policies section below.

For instrumental ensembles and studio classes involving string, keyboard, wind, brass, and percussion in both classical and jazz, the following protocols will be required:

  • Masking: Masks/face coverings required for all individuals. Updates on protocols for masking for wind and brass instruments will be posted soon.
  • Distance: Physical distancing of 12 feet for winds and brass players must be maintained. For all other instrumentalists, 6 feet must be maintained.
  • Capacity: No more than 20 performers (excluding conductor/coach) in any ensemble, regardless of the normal published capacity of a rehearsal space.
  • Room vacancy (for rehearsals or performances involving wind and brass players): For rehearsals or performances involving wind and brass players, rehearsals/performances must be followed by the following minimum room vacancies:
    • Vacancy of at least 30 minutes following rehearsals and performances taking place in Bibbins or Kohl halls (including faculty studios). 
    • Vacancy of at least 60 minutes (1 hour) following rehearsals and performances taking place in Central or Robertson halls (including Kulas and Warner halls), Finney Chapel, Fairchild Chapel, Cat in the Cream, or any other campus space not identified above.
  • General/miscellaneous:
    • Faculty and students are encouraged to use plexiglass shields and other barriers as desired. Doing so does not replace mask use as outlined above.
    • Brass players should be mindful when emptying their instruments’ water keys (or “spit valves”) or emptying condensation from their instruments. Collect condensation in a disposable paper towel, or in a reusable towel that’s disinfected after each use. 
    • Flute players are strongly encouraged to use a “Win-D-Fender,” provided by school, in lessons and ensemble rehearsals/performances.
    • Faculty and students responsible for wiping down music stands, chairs, and other shared surfaces with disinfectant wipes before and after each lesson.
    • Only students who are formally studying on campus (and, who are participating in the campus’ full suite of health and safety provisions, including testing) may participate in ensembles and studio classes in person. Neither students who have elected to study remotely nor community members may participate in the ensembles program in person; remote students and community members may participate in the ensembles program virtually, as appropriate, with approval from the instructor.
How will vocal and choral ensembles take place?

Please see the Voice Division FAQ and the Jazz Division FAQ on this page.

Guidelines for Outdoor Performance Activities

For your health and safety, when participating in outdoor performance activities such as lessons, rehearsals, and performances, all participants must follow the requirements below:

  • Masking: Masks/face coverings required for all individuals. 
  • Distancing: Individuals must remain at least 6 feet apart from one another.
  • Capacity: There are no upper limits on the number of musicians who may participate in outdoor ensembles.

Important Notes

  • Approved Venues: Faculty and students interested in booking outdoor spaces for lessons, rehearsals, studio classes, or performances must consult with Concert Productions or the Conservatory Dean’s Office. Only approved on-campus spaces may be used. Faculty interested in using other spaces (e.g., outdoor venues at a local church) must consult with the Conservatory Dean’s Office in advance.
  • Limiting Gatherings: Students and faculty rehearsing or performing outdoors must take great care to minimize occasions for crowds to gather to listen.  
    • For outdoor rehearsals, lessons, classes, and individual practicing sessions: Avoid creating a setting that might imply a public performance/event. If crowds begin to congregate, take active steps to help disperse the gathering (e.g., pause playing, change one’s orientation to the gatherers, or relocate).
    • For outdoor performances: Performances must comply with social-distancing requirements. Audience members must be 6 feet apart from one another. The faculty member supervising the performance is responsible for ensuring that social-distancing steps are taken for any potential audiences for outdoor performances. Please coordinate with the Conservatory Dean’s Office to place markers in any audience zone designating where individuals may sit or stand. 
  • Neighborliness: For all outdoor performance activities (lessons, studio classes, ensemble rehearsals, practice sessions, performances, etc.) faculty and students must practice good neighborliness and comply with City of Oberlin regulations.  
    • Be mindful of others around you, especially academic classes which may be in session.  
    • Be mindful of residential and commercial areas.
    • All faculty and students must comply with the City of Oberlin regulations, including the city regulation on noise: “Unreasonable noise or loud sound, which is likely to cause inconvenience or annoyance to others, is prohibited. This includes the operation of any sound amplification system in vehicles when the sound is audible at a distance of fifty feet or more from the vehicle.” (see City of Oberlin, “Select City Regulations.”)

Lessons

Will Conservatory students have in-person lessons during the 2020-21 academic year?

For additional information, please refer to the Applied Study Guidelines above.

When possible, one-on-one instruction in the conservatory will take place with at least 6 feet of physical distancing and the use of PPE (personal protective equipment). In preparation for this mode of instruction, office furniture is being rearranged, and plexiglass barriers are being added to all faculty offices. 

In some cases, one-on-one lessons will be moved to larger classrooms or rehearsal spaces. 

In other instances, lessons will take place in pairs of low-latency, high-fidelity, studio-to-studio audio/video transmission rooms installed around the conservatory. These will allow a faculty member and student (or an accompanist and a student soloist) to teach and interact in real time while in two separate rooms.

Musicians using technologically advanced learning space.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin Conservatory

In some cases, private study will take place online. These include instances where instruction must move online in accordance with particular needs of the student or teacher, or in areas or modes of teaching where accommodation for in-person instruction cannot reasonably be made.

All students should contact their studio teachers for more information on how their private lessons will take place in the fall.

How will secondary lessons be handled?

Secondary lessons will be available in most areas. Students should contact applied teachers for further information. In many cases, secondary study will be conducted remotely.

All student-taught secondary lessons will be remote. Practice space and instruments for secondary students will be more limited than usual, but every effort is being made to ensure that ample resources are made available.

Information on secondary lesson auditions is available here.

Recitals

Will degree recitals take place this academic year?

Yes, junior and senior recitals remain an essential component of the student experience and will take place. There are ample recital dates and times available to accommodate recitals delayed from the spring 2020 term and the recitals that should take place in 2020-21.

Due to the revised academic calendar, students and teachers are encouraged to carefully plan recital scheduling and programming. 

Audiences are limited to teachers and faculty who need to attend to assess the performance.

All recitals will continue to be live-streamed and available free to viewers around the globe.

What dates and times are available for degree recitals?

Recitals will be scheduled at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, as well as 12:30, 2:30, 4:30, and 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

The current policy of 35 minutes of music for juniors and 50 minutes of music for seniors will remain the same.

Due to pressure on concert hall time as well as a shortened in-person academic year (remote classes during the first week of fall and spring semesters as well as after Thanksgiving) certain cohorts of students will be required to perform their recitals during specified windows of time during the year to ensure that there are enough student recital slots next year. See guidelines below:

  • Postponed junior and senior recitals (originally scheduled in spring 2020): These should be performed within the first nine weeks of fall semester, between September 8 and October 31, 2020. Students in this category will have the opportunity to schedule their recitals first, beginning Monday, August 17 through the first week of classes, September 7, 2020.
  • Junior recitals: These may be scheduled for September or October of fall semester or through week six of spring semester, February 12-March 21, 2021. We will avoid joint junior recitals when possible and instead provide juniors with their own recital slot unless it’s absolutely necessary that we pair with another junior.
  • Seniors: Will be able to perform their recitals at any point during the fall or spring semester, between September 8, 2020-May 4, 2021.

The Concert Production Office will also be modifying the current recital lottery dates, moving from three scheduling periods to five:

Schedule Period Recital Dates  
Aug. 17-Sep. 7, 2020 Sep. 8-Oct. 31, 2020 postponed spring 2020 recitals
Aug. 24-Oct. 16, 2020 Sep.-Oct. 31, 2020 all junior & senior recitals
Sep. 8-Nov. 11, 2020 Nov. 1-25, 2020 senior recitals only
Oct. 12-Jan. 10, 2021 Feb. 12-Mar. 21, 2021 all junior & senior recitals
Beginning Jan. 11, 2021 Mar. 24-May 4, 2021 senior recitals only

 

Performances

Will audiences be permitted to attend performances?

Until further notice, audience members will not be permitted at indoor performances, including junior and senior degree recitals, save for the limited numbers of faculty members who must attend events to adjudicate students’ performances for the purpose of assigning grades, offering jury comments, and the like. Performers appearing on the program, accompanists, and support personnel (e.g., stage crew) are not audience members, and hence are not affected by this policy.

Will performances be live-streamed?

Yes! All indoor performances, including junior and senior recitals, are broadcast live over the internet. For more information, please consult each performance’s listing on Oberlin’s Events Calendar. You can also consult the Conservatory’s Live Webcasts page.

In addition, streaming infrastructure to the Cat in the Cream will allow for broadcast of live events from that venue.

Conservatory Classes

Most Conservatory classes are designated as “hybrid” in the 2020-21 course catalog. 

Most academic classes, such as music theory and music history, will take place primarily online, with periodic small-group and/or individual interactions with the instructor.*

Most lessons, ensembles, and applied study will take place in person. Some remote engagement may also be required. Modes of instruction may change during the term based on activities within the class/ensemble and/or updated health and safety guidance. 

Students are encouraged to be in touch with faculty members, teachers, conductors, and/or the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory with questions. 

* One reason for shifting academic classes online is to create additional performance and rehearsal space for ensemble rehearsals, coaching, and private instruction.

How and where to sing safely is a prominent topic throughout the music world at the moment, and we are devoting extensive and ongoing attention to it at Oberlin. We are closely monitoring ongoing studies in this area, and our voice faculty are in contact with top medical experts in the fields of performance medicine and the singer’s voice. Voice majors are encouraged to stay in close contact with their teachers for the latest developments.

Our primary goal is to provide the richest possible learning experience for students while honoring the primary importance of the health of everyone in our community. Given what we understand about the virus and singing today, we have three approaches to singing and singing instruction:  

  1. Use of high-quality, low-latency technological solutions for lessons and collaboration
  2. In-person singing at large distances
  3. In-person singing outdoors (weather permitting)

Oberlin enjoys some advantages for doing these well: We have more large spaces per person than our peer institutions, and we have a nimbleness of execution that results from our relatively small size.

Teaching will occur using a variety of modes of instruction, from fully remote to in-person. 

General Guidelines: Vocalists may not sing—either masked or unmasked—in an enclosed indoor space occupied by other individuals. Vocalists interested in rehearsing with accompanists or other musicians indoors should do so utilizing the Real-Time Rooms, the isolation booth in Clonick, or other low-latency options.  

The exceptions to this policy concern (1) studio classes and (2) degree recitals (see below).

Vocalists may sing with accompanists and other musicians outdoors. As indicated in the Guidelines for Outdoor Performance, all vocalists singing outdoors must be masked and must observe appropriate distancing.

Conservatory vocal instruction—including lessons, studio classes, voice ensembles, choirs, and more—may take place outside in temperatures of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and above.

Guidelines for Voice Studio Classes: For voice studio classes, vocalists may perform in pre-approved spaces provided that (1) they are masked and (2) they maintain a distance of at least 20 feet from anyone else in the room. Unmasked singing is forbidden. A maximum of one masked instrumentalist/accompanist may participate in any one studio class; unmasked instrumentalists/accompanists are not permitted.

All other guidelines regarding masking, physical distancing, mandatory room-ventilation periods (30-minute ventilation periods following events in Bibbins or Kohl; 60-minute ventilation period following events in Central, Robertson, Finney, Cat in the Cream, or elsewhere), and all other Conservatory and campus health & safety guidelines remain in force.

Guidelines for Voice Degree Recitals: For voice degree recitals (jazz or classical) and the associated dress rehearsal, vocalists may perform masked alongside one or more instrumentalists (piano accompanist; other instrumentalists) in pre-approved spaces provided that (1) everyone (including the recitalist) is masked and (2) the masked recitalist maintains a distance of at least 20 feet from anyone else in the room. No additional vocalists may perform on the recital.

Due to social distancing and spacing guidelines, no more than four performers in total (including the masked recitalist) will be permitted to participate in any individual voice recital. Students may be granted exceptions to this number pending approval from their teachers and the Conservatory Dean’s Office, and provided that the stage is large enough to accommodate additional properly distanced performers. In general, students should engage the minimum possible number of instrumentalists for their recitals. All student recital plans are subject to approval.

If the singer chooses to perform unmasked, then no accompanist or instrumentalist may share the stage or be in the same room. However, we have specially adapted the backstage alcove in Warner Hall for live accompanists to perform—in a distanced, safe way—with recitalists who choose to perform unmasked. (Described briefly, the backstage alcove will be sealed off from the main space with plexiglass or a similar impermeable, transparent shield, with amplification connecting the piano backstage with the main performance space.)

All other guidelines regarding masking, physical distancing, room-ventilation periods (30-minute ventilation periods following events in Bibbins or Kohl; 60-minute ventilation period following events in Central, Robertson, Finney, Cat in the Cream, or elsewhere), and all other Conservatory and campus health and safety guidelines remain in force.

Voice Lessons and Coachings: Your studio teacher will be the best source of up-to-date information on this. But, broadly, we’ve been installing built-in, low latency room-to-room audio and video systems in the Conservatory to allow for a really high-quality learning experience. And we’re testing software (SoundJack and Jamulus) that allows groups of musicians to collaborate in real-time via audio from on campus or beyond. Given how central this one-on-one work is, we’re investing a huge amount of time and money into getting this right.

Opera Production: Instead of one opera production each semester fall, we’re planning two opera films. We’re embracing this as an opportunity to give singers a chance to perform for a camera, and to share these more widely with the world. 

Fall 2020 Oberlin Opera video broadcasts include:

The Telephone (1947), a comedy with words and music by Gian Carlo Menotti
La Voix humaine (1958), a tragédie lyrique composed by Francis Poulenc with libretto by Jean Cocteau

Spring 2021 opera production information is forthcoming.

Oberlin College Choir: In the first half of the fall semester, while the weather is nice, we’ll embrace a long tradition of choral music in a variety of styles written to be sung outdoors. We’ll work in small groups and as a very socially distanced full-ensemble, rehearsing in many of the acoustically interesting outdoor spaces that exist around campus. We’ll present an evening concert production from the courtyard and ramp of Mudd Library on Wilder Bowl, taking advantage of its resonant acoustic, and of Mudd’s flat surfaces for projecting video for an audience on the Bowl. In the second half of the fall semester, as the weather turns, we’ll move to creating small-group improvisation-composition projects, and spend time learning both the musical and technological skills for doing these. We’ll continue our one-on-one weekly five-minute meetings, though remotely, throughout the semester to build our musicianship skills.

Choir plans for spring 2021 are to be announced shortly.

Junior & Senior Recitals: Warner Concert Hall will be able to accommodate voice recitals. In consultation with their voice teachers, singers will also have the option to create a recital production, film, or alternate project to be shared for a broader audience via the internet.

Opera Theater Classes: These will take place in a hybrid format, partially in-person, partially outdoors, partially online. Singing will be recorded outside of class via our low-latency rooms, low-latency audio software like SoundJack/Jamulus, or done outdoors. Scenes and arias in the 400-level seminar classes will continue as assigned. Additionally, for the 305-level OPTH elective, Chris Mirto has planned a course on finding your voice as a creative artist, in which students will explore the nature of performance, audience relationship, genre and other big questions to think outside-of-the-box and create a solo piece of opera theater.

Vocal Chamber Music Class: The class will combine real-time collaborations as well as exploring and assembling performances using multi-tracking software. Instrumentalists will be invited to participate as well. It will be a new experience for all.

Diction & Literature classes: These will be in a hybrid-format, with some online and some in-person meetings. Performances will be pre-recorded using low-latency technology, and shared via recording in class.

Guest Masterclasses: The move to an online world gives us an opportunity to connect with major artists who might otherwise not be available given their performance and travel schedules. We’re lining up some exciting events here, and we look forward to sharing more about this soon.

Teaching the Tech: If broader trends hadn’t already made it clear, this virus has shown just how critical it is that young artists have the skills to self-produce content and self-market for a worldwide, internet audience. This democratization of content distribution creates historically unique opportunities for emerging singers. We’re building a series of workshops on production and marketing to help prepare you to launch yourself in this environment.

For additional information, voice students should be in touch directly with their studio teachers or with Professor Greg Ristow, director of the Division of Vocal Studies.

For additional information, please refer to the Applied Study Guidelines above.

Large instrumental ensembles in the conservatory—Oberlin Orchestra, Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, Oberlin Sinfonietta, Oberlin Baroque Orchestra, and Oberlin Jazz Ensemble—will take place in person. In all cases, rehearsals and performances will adhere to social distancing guidelines.

Participants in Oberlin Orchestra, Oberlin Chamber Orchestra, Contemporary Music Ensemble, and Oberlin Sinfonietta will be divided into two pools:

  • Oberlin Orchestra and the Contemporary Music Ensemble
  • Chamber Orchestra and Sinfonietta

Because of physical distancing requirements and other factors, students will be assigned specific pieces within those ensembles to not exceed the maximum number of players recommended by public-health authorities and government officials. This will result in several small and midsize groups. In order to address this unusual number of smaller groups, rehearsal blocks will be three hours in duration. However, each individual student can expect to rehearse for a maximum of two hours per rehearsal. Every effort will be made to accommodate class schedules as well as alignment with chamber music groups.

Oberlin Arts and Sciences Orchestra members should contact Tiffany Chang for details.

Oberlin Jazz Ensemble members should contact Professor Bobby Ferrazza for details.

Baroque Orchestra members should contact Professor David Breitman for details.

For additional information, please refer to the Applied Study Guidelines above.

Chamber music will take place in person, and arrangements are being made to ensure ample time and space for rehearsing and coaching in rooms that can safely accommodate appropriately distanced chamber groups. Chamber music questions can be directed to Professor Kirsten Docter.

How will lessons be run?
The current intention is to have all lessons, except for vocal lessons, in person as the starting assumption. Commuting instrumental faculty may teach a portion of their lessons remotely, depending on their travel schedules (please see below). Also, individual faculty members and/or individual students may elect to conduct lessons remotely, due to personal considerations (e.g., health considerations). 

Jazz Voice: Vocal lessons will take place in real-time in person via two adjacent studios equipped with low-latency video and audio technology. Though teacher and student will be in separate rooms, the lesson will be conducted in real time, with high-fidelity technology. Please contact Professor La Tanya Hall (latanya.hall@oberlin.edu) for additional information. 

State-specific travel regulations may affect traveling faculty members’ abilities to commute to Oberlin according to their customary schedules. For students whose teachers commute (jazz saxophone, jazz trumpet, jazz drums, jazz voice, jazz bass), please be in touch with Bobby Ferrazza (robert.ferrazza@oberlin.edu), Julie Baker (jbaker@oberlin.edu), and/or your teacher for more information about your teacher’s proposed commuting schedule.

Will improvisation classes be held in person?
Yes. 

Will general music theory classes be held in person?
No. They will be held remotely.

Will Intro to African American Music be held in person?
No. It will be held remotely.

Will jazz theory classes be held in person?
No. They will be held remotely. 

Will small ensembles be held in person?
Yes.

Will the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble (big band) be held in person?
Big band will be broken into three groups of about 9-10 students, each of which will meet in person. These groups will include vocalists, who will sing in the sound booth during rehearsals while the rest of the group plays in Clonick.

Will this change impact large-ensemble credits?
No. Students in these three large ensembles will receive large ensemble credit by utilizing the OJE CRN number when registering for the course. (Julie Baker will notify you of this CRN and your consent after the results of the large ensemble auditions have been determined.)

Will there be a Oberlin Sonny Rollins Jazz Ensemble this year?
Yes. 

Will the Sonny Ensemble go on tour?
That would depend on when and if a vaccine becomes available. Please keep in mind that the goal of the Sonny Ensemble is service to others; touring is not the main objective.

How will COVID regulations affect classes in general?
All applied-studies classes will be held in person, except for jazz voice. 

Jazz voice lessons will take place in person in the new “Real-Time Rooms”. Each pair of rooms comprises two studios connected with high-fidelity audiovisual equipment and microphones. Musicians in these separate rooms may interact virtually in real time and high fidelity.

It may also be possible that an individual teacher or student may have reasons to make accommodations and hold classes or lessons remotely. Changes in class size will be made to fit room-capacity regulations. Surfaces will undergo rigorous cleaning after rehearsals, and air-exchange pauses will be added when appropriate.

Are audiences allowed to attend performances?
All recitals will be live-streamed and available free to viewers around the globe. The only audience permitted are relevant faculty.

Every room in the Conservatory has been assessed in terms of maximum capacity with respect to guidelines for COVID-risk mitigation. 

How will the Jazz Small Ensembles perform?
Since weather will not be conducive to performing outside for a significant portion of the spring 2021 semester, all Jazz Small Ensembles will be recorded by Conservatory Staff toward the end of the semester (video/audio). These recordings will be posted for others to access. We also plan to hold several extended outdoor concerts toward the end of the semester in which all the groups will have an opportunity to perform. More details to follow.

Will there be a limit to the number of people I can have onstage with me for a recital?Yes. There will be a maximum of 6 students (in aggregate) for all recitals. Groups with a vocalist can include a trio plus vocalist performing at the same time. It will be necessary to consider the capacity of the venue in which you will be rehearsing and the capacity of the recital hall in which you will be performing.

Will the Cat have live-streaming capabilities for recitals?
Yes. 

Are jam sessions permitted?
Yes, they are encouraged, as long as we adhere to capacity guidelines for whatever room in which you are jamming, as well as Conservatory-wide applied-study/ensemble guidance. 

Will we be able to jam or rehearse in outdoor spaces with access to outlets?
Yes, weather permitting. It will be necessary, of course, to adhere to volume guidelines for the community.

Can we store instruments in the rehearsal rooms?
No. It will be imperative not to store personal equipment in rehearsal spaces. Also, for health reasons, there will be zero tolerance for entering rooms while there is a rehearsal in progress.

Can we still hang out in the Kohl lobby?
Furniture has been removed from many places on campus including the Kohl Building lobby (Logan Commons). As long as we are masked and appropriate distancing is observed, however, it is fine to stop and chat. 

Will the Kohl computer lab be open?
Yes. Work stations will be spread out to observe distancing, and the space will be limited to jazz majors in order to cut down on traffic. 

How will we use the practice rooms?
Practice rooms will be assigned to students with non-portable instruments. Everyone with portable instruments will have the option to sign up for one of the Music Making Communities (South Hall or East Hall) and practice in their rooms. Those spaces have been tested with a range of instruments, and the cinder-block walls are adequate for blocking sound. One or two practice rooms in Kohl may remain unassigned and available for general use such as lesson warm-up (with guidelines instituted for rigorous cleaning of those potential spaces).

Will there be music stands in the rooms in the Music Making Community?
All students are encouraged to bring their own music stands, but a limited number of stands will be available for this purpose. 

I play a portable instrument and am living in off-campus housing with no room to practice. What should I do?
Contact Associate Dean for Operations Michael Straus (mstraus@oberlin.edu) to explain your situation. The Conservatory will help students whenever possible. 

How will non-pianists access pianos?
The Conservatory is working to address this matter; more information is forthcoming. 

How will we manage rehearsal time in the rehearsal spaces?
Spaces can be reserved online (as they have been in previous years), with strict adherence to the capacity guidelines for those spaces.

Will practice rooms in Kohl be designated for jazz students?
There is no place in the Conservatory that is designated for one genre (with the exception of jazz rehearsal rooms on the first floor of Kohl, because of the equipment).

Why are all classes listed as hybrid classes?
For information regarding “hybrid” status and other modes of delivery, please see: https://www.oberlin.edu/dean-of-the-conservatory/bulletins/delivery-modes-2020-21-fall-semester-courses.

When will the juries that were supposed to happen in May 2020 happen?
Likely during the first week of Fall 2020 classes. All juries will be performed and recorded in collaboration with your studio teacher.

Will the Skybar be operational?
Yes, but the tables will be removed and it will be grab-and-go service. 

How will auditions at the beginning of the year work?
Auditions will be recorded.

Are students still able to book Clonick Hall for self-record sessions?
Yes, although there will be greater demand for large rehearsal spaces to be used for classes and ensembles, so it will be difficult to find time when Clonick will be available.

Will students be able to meet with faculty outside of lessons?
Yes.

Will drummers be sharing practice rooms?
It depends on the number of percussion students who return to campus, but sharing is likely. 

Will secondary lessons happen?
Yes. Lessons taught by faculty will be in-person according to availability and lessons taught by students will be conducted remotely.

If you have questions, contact Jazz Division Director Bobby Ferrazza (robert.ferrazza@oberlin.edu). 

This collection of frequently asked questions is intended to assure you of the continued meaningful educational experiences offered by faculty in the Division of Pedagogy, Advocacy, and Community Engagement (PACE).

According to campus policy, “Oberlin College has suspended in-person external student engagement for all College-sponsored activities taking place in the surrounding community. All external student engagement for College-sponsored activities or partnerships in the surrounding community will take place on a remote basis until further notice.”  

PACE faculty remain committed to exploring with you the many innovative ways we can continue to provide “musical access” and “musical justice” to our surrounding community members. 

The following FAQs address a few ways we intend to engage musically using online platforms, as well as other subjects pertaining to PACE.

How will community-based learning (CBL) courses operate this academic year?
PACE courses offered in Fall 2020 that have community-based learning (CBL) experiential components include 

  • PACE 103: Community Music Engagement in the Schools
  • PACE 104: String Pedagogy; and 
  • piano pedagogy courses

Faculty will work with community partners in the schools and individuals in the community to provide online platforms for music engagement. This will also be a time for all of us to explore a variety of technological formats for offering musical experiences with community members. For example:

  • PACE 103 students will create online unit plans and offer live performances for Oberlin Public Schools music classes as a supplement to music teachers’ curricula. Students might also have the opportunity to collaborate musically and pedagogically with local school districts in the Colorado Springs area and the Grafton Correctional Institution.
  • A large component of PACE 104 is based on college students’ observations of Community Music School (CMS) teachers’ private lessons with young students. In fall 2021, CMS teachers will record their lessons for subsequent review by PACE 104 students.
  • Piano pedagogy students may have the opportunity for remote student teaching in the fall 2020 semester, pending the number of secondary piano students and instrument availability.   

PACE courses offered in Spring 2021 that have community-based learning (CBL) experiential components include 

  • As part of the PACE 105 class, you will be doing a significant amount of teaching which we will discuss as a group.  In spring semester 2021, these lessons will be taught remotely and will be recorded for class discussion.
  • PACE 318 will study Creative Placemaking remotely.  The class will meet via Zoom and all guests will join our class via Zoom.  Some class sessions will be taught in conjunction with 250OC (Artistry and Economics of Creative Placemaking), this too will be done via Zoom.
  • Piano pedagogy students may have the opportunity for remote student teaching, pending the number of secondary piano students and instrument availability.   

Faculty will work with community partners to provide online platforms for music engagement. This will also be a time for all of us to explore a variety of technological formats for offering musical experiences with community members. 

Will classes and lessons take place at the Oberlin Community Music School?
All private classes and private lessons for students enrolled in the Oberlin Community Music School will occur remotely. 

How will secondary private lessons happen?
All secondary private lessons provided by Oberlin College students will be offered online.

Can I sign up for a professional development advising appointment?
Yes. General professional development advising appointments are still available and are held exclusively online. 

Is the Gig Referral Service still available?
The Gig Referral Service is temporarily suspended due to the campus policy that suspends all Oberlin College-sponsored external student engagement in the community.

Are FIG and XARTS grants still available?
Yes. FIGS and XARTS grants will be available for May “Winter Term” project support. Information is forthcoming about general professional development virtual workshops offered by Dana Jessen and guest presenters.

If you have additional questions, please contact:

Jody Kerchner, PACE Division Director jody.kerchner@oberlin.edu

Dana Jessen, Director of Conservatory Professional Development dana.jessen@oberlin.edu

Andrea McAlister, Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy andrea.mcalister@oberlin.edu

Louise Zeitlin, Associate Professor of Community Engagement louise.zeitlin@oberlin.edu

Academic Policies

Large Instrumental Ensemble Substitution Policy (2020-21)

Note: This policy does not pertain to vocal ensembles or large jazz ensembles.

Students who need to complete large ensemble credits, but are unable to do so due to the nature of their enrollment, will be allowed to substitute the large ensemble credits with other conservatory credits. This applies only to the 2020-2021 academic year due to COVID-specific issues. Substitutions must be approved by the student’s Division Director, Ensembles Division Director Raphael Jimenez, and Associate Dean Catherine Sherman.

Double-degree students who have additional semesters remaining to satisfy ensemble requirements are encouraged to postpone ensemble participation rather than find a substitute. Other ensemble credits (chamber music or classes) should not be used as substitutions.

Students are reminded that good academic standing and degree progress requires participation in the Large Ensemble Program, as appropriate to the major, and as assigned. 

Steps in the process:

  1. Speak with your teacher/advisor and division director.
  2. Fill out the waiver form and get signatures from your division director as well as Raphael Jiménez (ensembles division director).
  3. Submit the form to Associate Dean Catherine Sherman for final approval.
  4. Register for the designated course.
Conservatory Grading Protocols (Academic Year 2020-21)

• Letter grades remain the default grading system.

• Our current Pass/No Entry [P/NE] grading option (replacing P/NP) will remain in place for Academic Year 2020-2021. P/NE will only be available for Conservatory courses currently available as P/NP. For P, grades must be a C- or above. NE grades will not show on official transcripts but will be visible on unofficial transcripts for purposes of advising.

• Students may elect P/NE up to the last day of reading period. For first module classes, students may elect P/NE through October 16 for Fall 2020 and through March 19 for Spring 2021. Academic advisor signatures will be required, as has been our standard practice. The Conservatory Deans' Office will review requests for final approval. 

• For the 2020-21 academic year only, limitations on selecting P/NE will remain lifted for MUTH I-IV, Aural Skills I-IV, and MHST 101. The P/NE option will not be automatically selected, so students who choose to be graded P/NE for these classes must select it by submitting the P/NE form.

• Departmental classes within a major that are listed by name on the major grid will retain the grading option required for students in that major.

• Principal Private Study (PVST), Faculty-taught secondary lessons (PVST) and ensembles (APST) will continue to be letter-graded.

• In any class that is required by name for a major or for any other official program requirement, a NE grade will be considered a failing grade for the purposes of Conservatory Academic Standing. (This includes classes such as MUTH I-IV, ESOL, and those within the major department.)

• We will revert to our standard Emergency Incompletes and no longer offer “COVID Incompletes.”

• Non-course requirements for the semester must be completed by the normal departmental deadlines.

• Further information on academic policies is available here.

Practice Space

How will practice space work this academic year?

All conservatory students will have access to practice space this fall in one of two ways:

  1. Students who major in instruments that might readily and easily be transported (flute, clarinet, oboe/English horn, bassoon, saxophone, violin, viola, cello, horn, trumpet, trombone, guitar, and voice) are assigned to single-occupancy dorm rooms in which they may practice. This dormitory-based “music-making community” will house primarily conservatory students. All students living in a music-making community on campus will be provided a musician chair and stand in their dorm room.
  2. Students who major in instruments that are not readily transported (piano, percussion, bass, tuba, harp, organ, and historical keyboards), or with pre-approved instrument-specific needs, are assigned to a specific practice room in Robertson Hall. We anticipate assigning one or two students per practice room. Students may practice only in their assigned rooms.
What are the policies and guidelines for students assigned to practice space in Robertson?

Conservatory students who major in instruments that are not readily transported (piano, percussion, bass, tuba, harp, organ, and historical keyboards), or with pre-approved instrument-specific needs, will be assigned to a specific practice room in Robertson or Kohl. Students in these areas will be able to access their practice rooms only after they have been cleared by an email from Mercy Health indicating that they have a negative test.

Students with an assigned practice room in Robertson will get a key to their individual or shared room, which should always remain locked when not in use. Students will be responsible for wiping down chairs, stands, and pianos—using disinfectant wipes located at stations throughout Robertson—before and after their booking.  Students are also responsible for locking their practice room immediately following usage.

Students with shared practice rooms will be required to observe a mandatory one-hour room vacancy period in between practice sessions with their practice-room partner. Scheduling time in this shared practice rooms is the responsibility of the students assigned to those practice rooms. 

The maximum occupancy for all assigned practice rooms in Robertson is one person at a time.

In addition, for health and safety reasons, students are not permitted to let anyone other than those assigned to a room to use their practice room. 

Failure to observe any of the above guidelines will result in a suspension or revocation of practice-room privileges.  

What if I am an Arts and Sciences student studying music?

A&S students will be able to book up to two hours per day in designated practice rooms in Robertson. Priority will be given to A&S students enrolled in secondary lessons and ensembles as well as musical studies majors.

Students will not be able to use these practice rooms without a reservation, which can be made by reaching out to the Conservatory’s Concert Production Office.

All reservations for A&S practice rooms will automatically have a one-hour room vacancy period following all bookings. In addition, students using these rooms will be responsible for wiping down chairs, stands, and pianos—using disinfectant wipes located at stations throughout Robertson—before and after their booking. The maximum occupancy for all A&S Practice Rooms is one person at a time.

If your practice needs exceed two hours per day, please contact Associate Dean Michael Straus for information on how to schedule additional practice space/time.

In addition, the conservatory instrument depot, which loans out instruments to A&S students at no cost, will be fully operational this academic year. For more information about the instrument depot, please reach out to Anna Schiff.

Conservatory Library

To promote safety for students, faculty, and staff, the Conservatory Library’s doors will be closed to the public this fall. However, our collections and services will be available.

When will library staff be available?

Staff will be available for consultation 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. All services will be delivered virtually. Schedule an appointment online.

All reference service will be provided virtually by appointment and drop-in. Hours will vary in order to serve remote student time zones. For questions, send an email to con.ref@oberlin.edu.

All instructional service will be provided virtually. For questions, send an email to con.ref@oberlin.edu.

All special collections assistance and instruction will be provided virtually. For information, visit the Conservatory Special Collections website. To request an item from the Conservatory Special Collections, fill out the online form. For appointments, send an email to con.special@oberlin.edu.

How do I request books and scores?

Book and score requests are to be made via the library’s online catalog, OBIS. The requested or paged items will then be distributed by staff on weekdays in the Conservatory Central Lounge location, designated “Conservatory Library Circ@Central.”

How do I access sound, video, and music reference resources?

All sound and video streaming resources as well as online music reference resources will continue to be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from our website homepage.

How do I access reserve materials?

All reserve materials will be available virtually 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information, visit the Conservatory Library’s website homepage. For questions about reserve readings, contact gsolow@oberlin.edu.

Are OhioLINK and Inter-Library Loan services available?

Yes. OhioLINK and Inter-Library Loan services will be available. Those items will be available for pick-up at the Terrell Main Library.

Will a copy machine and printer be accessible?

A copy machine and printer will be available for use in the Conservatory Central Lounge.

Facilities Access

How will access to the Conservatory work?

The Conservatory will be swipe-accessible to all faculty, staff, and student OCID holders on campus. The Conservatory complex will continue its normal operating hours of Monday-Sunday, 7:30 a.m. to midnight. Individuals without a current, active OCID will not be permitted in the Conservatory without prior approval. For approval, please contact the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory at conservatory@oberlin.edu.

Will the Concert Production Office be open?

Yes, the Concert Production Office will be open for students to book junior and senior recitals, rehearsal time in classrooms and concert halls, and self-record sessions in all recital and concert halls. Contact Concert Production at conpro@oberlin.edu.

How much time can I schedule for rehearsals and recording in classrooms and concert halls?

Students may schedule up to two hours per week of rehearsal time in a classroom. Seniors will be allowed to reserve up to two hours per week in a concert hall for recording sessions. The two hours of classroom time and concert hall time (seniors only) may be distributed in any way throughout the week.

Will Conservatory students have access to lockers?

Unless specified otherwise, students in the conservatory will still be able to request a locker for 2020-21 by contacting the Concert Production Office at conpro@oberlin.edu.

Will the reed rooms be accessible?

The oboe and bassoon reed rooms will be open. They will be limited to a maximum capacity of two students per room at any given time. Time in the reed room will be scheduled on a rotational basis by studio faculty for students needing access to these spaces.

Please contact Professor Walters and Professor Pattison for more information on these spaces.

For questions about the clarinet room, please contact Professor Hawkins.

Will the TIMARA studios be accessible?

The TIMARA studios will be open to majors, minors, and students enrolled in TIMARA classes. Students outside any of these categories requesting access should contact Abby Aresty; requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis. TIMARA majors and minors are encouraged to stay in touch with TIMARA faculty and refer to department-specific information.

Will the Kohl Building computer lab be open?

The Kohl computer lab will remain open and accessible via swipe card to students in the Jazz Department.

Conservatory Winter Term

  • Conservatory/double-degree seniors who require an additional Winter Term (WT) credit or who wish to complete an additional WT project may choose from the following options: 
  1. Individual project in August with faculty sponsor
  2. One of the August group projects listed in the WT catalogue
  3. Individual or group project completed in May 

Note: Graduating seniors are strongly encouraged to complete remaining Winter Term projects in August. If May is preferred or necessary, please contact Associate Dean Catherine Sherman to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place for graduation.

  • All other Conservatory Students It is possible for Conservatory students to complete Winter Term projects during either of two periods: January 4-29 or May 24-June 18. For January, students are encouraged to design projects that they can complete entirely from their place of residence, while adhering to all applicable laws and health department guidance, without placing themselves or others in harm’s way. Individual projects may not include travel. On-campus, in-person projects in Oberlin are not possible for January. Information on the May/June Winter Term will be shared during the spring semester. It will not be possible for a single student to enroll for credit in both periods, since both are a part of the same academic year. Students are encouraged to consult with their teachers and advisors about how to craft meaningful projects and to be in touch with us or the Winter Term Office should they have further questions. Please visit the Winter Term Office website for further information.  

  • Winter Term Credit
  1. Only full-credit WT projects will be offered during the 2020-21 academic year (no half-credit)
  2. XARTS and FIG funding will be available for May WT projects.

Conservatory Placement Tests for Incoming Students

Conservatory placement tests and class-piano auditions for fall 2020 will be administered remotely during the summer, primarily in July. Conservatory staff will be in touch with students to schedule these placements.

Note: A piano audition is not required if the student has no previous piano experience. This audition is to determine placement for non-piano majors who need to take piano as part of their major program. Students should see their Conservatory “Major Grid” regarding piano and all course requirements.

Incoming students also will complete the Conservatory Writing Assessment. The Conservatory Writing Committee will send an email to students about the assessment later in the summer.

Please contact us:

Jeanne Rosecrans

  • Theory and Aural Skills
  • Piano (auditions for non-piano majors)
  • Music History (by request, not required of all students)

Julie Baker

  • Jazz Theory and Aural Skills

Office of the Associate Deans

  • Conservatory Writing Assessment

Orientation

Conservatory Orientation programming will begin in early August 2020 and run until the start of classes. Most programming will be remote; however, some in-person auditions will be scheduled for conservatory students in the days just before the start of classes. Conservatory staff will contact students with audition details.

ConPALs programming and Jazz Bootcamp will take place. For questions about these programs, contact Associate Dean Chris Jenkins at cjenkins@oberlin.edu.

Visit Orientation for New Students for updates.

Advising and Registration for Incoming and Returning Students

Incoming and returning students will register for courses the week of August 10 for fall semester 2020.  Students will receive specific information regarding advising periods and registration times.

Incoming Conservatory students will be pre-registered in Conservatory core courses (e.g., Lessons, Theory, and Aural Skills) and will register for fall 2020 only.  Returning Conservatory students will register for both fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters. By default, returning Double Degree students will register fall and spring semesters, unless specific educational plans require alternate arrangements. RAP # will be required for registration approval. A refreshed 2020-2021 Course Schedule will be available the third week in July.

All students will be able to make schedule adjustments. Schedule adjustment periods will be noted in the Academic Calendar. Fall schedules can be adjusted through September 10.  Students will have opportunities to make changes to their spring and summer semester schedules later in the academic year.

Students are encouraged to review their respective Conservatory major grid before scheduling courses.

Additional details about advising, registration procedures, and related dates will be communicated later this summer. Students may contact the Office of the Associate Deans at condeans@oberlin.edu with questions.

Double-Degree (DD) Students

May double-degree students enroll in all three terms during the 2020-21 academic year?

Oberlin students will be permitted to enroll in only two of the three terms offered during the 2020-21 academic year. We recognize that the shift in the Academic Calendar may create particular concerns for double-degree students. All double-degree students are encouraged to consult with their advisors, the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory, and staff in the College of Arts and Sciences’ Academic Advising Resource Center (AARC) to discuss their academic plans and progress to degree completion.

To facilitate academic planning, DD students should review their Degree Works audit and their respective conservatory major grid.

What support is available for double-degree planning?

Double-degree students will want to work closely with their academic advisors to plan their course schedules and ensure timely progress to degree completion.

For additional support, double-degree students may contact the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory at condeans@oberlin.edu and College of Arts and Sciences Academic Advising Resource Center at aarc@oberlin.edu. Students may also send an email directly to:

Summer Term 2021 in the Conservatory

While the conservatory will not be fully in session during Summer Term 2021, we expect to offer classes, ensembles, and lesson opportunities specifically for Arts and Sciences students, particularly musical studies majors and those engaged in the new interdivisional minors. The details of these offerings will be available during spring semester. Students with specific questions about degree requirements should contact the Office of the Dean of the Conservatory at condeans@oberlin.edu.