Oberlin Conservatory Launches Virtual Classes for a Worldwide Audience

Oberlin Conservatory Global welcomes music students, educators, and lifelong learners; first courses begin in summer 2021.

April 14, 2021

Conservatory Communications Staff

Virtual learning, virtually anywhere.

Since its founding in 1865, Oberlin Conservatory has been hailed as one of the world’s preeminent institutions for the training of professional musicians. For the first time ever, the singular resources of Oberlin are available anywhere on earth.

Oberlin Conservatory Global, a new approach to music learning, begins in summer 2021 with a series of thoughtfully crafted courses that combine virtual lectures, workshops, classes, and more.

Born out of the successful implementation of virtual education for Oberlin students during the past year, OC Global brings the dynamic range of knowledge and skills of Oberlin Conservatory faculty to a classroom without boundaries.

Intended for students at the high school, college, or graduate level, as well as teachers and lifelong learners, these courses offer excellent opportunities for energizing the study, creation, and teaching of music.

“Over the past year, educational institutions everywhere faced unprecedented challenges in adapting their traditional learning models to meet the needs of students and teachers distributed across the globe,” says William Quillen, Dean of Oberlin Conservatory.

“Through the effort and expertise of countless members of our campus community, Oberlin rose to meet those challenges in ways that have inspired us anew to reconsider previously held ideas of what music education in the 21st century can look like.

“Oberlin Conservatory Global signifies a purposeful step toward realizing an educational model that is unlimited by geography and other impediments to access, and a step closer to an Oberlin education that is attainable from every corner of the world.”

Initial OC Global offerings include programs dedicated to music theory and pedagogy, a guide to technology-assisted music collaboration, topics in advanced string playing, and a course dedicated to the enduring impact of 1970s rock and roll. They vary in duration from four days to six weeks, and sessions take place primarily in the evening. Fees range from $150 to $250 per program.

At this time, all courses are non-credit-bearing. Some programs are eligible for continuing education (CEU) credit.

OC Global’s five initial course offerings for summer 2021 include the following (all times listed are Eastern Time):

Ingenuity and Innovation: How Rock and Roll Splintered in the 1970s

Intended for lifelong learners of all backgrounds.

Teacher: Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology Kathryn Metz

Dates: June 7-July 7 (five Monday sessions, each 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET, plus five additional recorded sessions)

Fee: $200

The 1970s saw a dramatic shift in styles, technologies, and consumption of popular music. The rock industry coalesced while genres splintered, pushing listeners into marketable boxes. This course uncovers the layers of 1970s political, social, and cultural shifts that continue to shape and reshape rock and roll and its branches: hip-hop, prog rock, electronic rock, synth pop, glam, arena rock, disco, soul, R&B, punk, and more.


Tools for Online Musical Collaboration

Intended for teachers, advanced students, and lifelong learners interested in online collaboration.

Teacher: Associate Professor of Conducting and Director of Vocal Ensembles Gregory Ristow

Dates: June 14-17 (7-8:30 p.m. ET Monday-Thursday)

Fee: $150

Not so long ago, making music with collaborators around the world seemed all but impossible. This class fully explains how to enjoy real-time, low-latency collaborations—and without the need for expensive equipment or software. The course introduces cutting-edge programs that allow for singing and playing together from afar, opening up new worlds of creative artistry. Areas of focus include establishing low-latency connection, techniques for optimal audio transmission, use of the peer-to-peer program SoundJack, and creating successful recordings.


Pillars of Music Pedagogy

Intended for music teachers at all levels, including private teachers, those considering private teaching, and those who seek to engage diverse music learners of all ages; as well as for lifelong learners.

Teachers: Professor of Music Education Jody Kerchner and Associate Professor of Piano Pedagogy Andrea McAlister

Dates: June 10, 17, and 24 (7-8:30 p.m. ET each day)

Fee: $250

This course offers opportunities to hone skills in the basics of general music teaching practices, based on psychological and pedagogical research and the facilitators’ years of teaching experience. These ideas are applicable to all music teaching settings—regardless of instrument, voice, or group size—as well as for lifelong music learners. Participants read pedagogical materials and view video modules independently, then bring questions and observations to weekly online meetings that emphasize discussion and application of the key strategies covered.


Music Theory Jumpstart

Intended for students entering College Music Theory I or AP Music Theory in fall 2021, as well as lifelong learners.

Teacher: Associate Professor of Music Theory Joseph Lubben

Dates: June 21-July 30 (live workshops, recorded videos, and weekly assignments)

Fee: $250 (Fee will be waived for incoming Oberlin College and Conservatory students.)

This six-week fundamentals course is designed to prepare students to excel in conservatory-level music theory studies. It consists of one weekly prerecorded lecture, one weekly live workshop with small groups, and structured self-study using the online instructional platform uTheory. Students develop fluency with clefs, intervals, rhythm and meter, scales, and chord types, and are exposed to foundations of musical form, approaches to timbre, a variety of analytical perspectives, and a diverse repertoire.


A More Excellent Way of String Playing

Intended for advanced-level high school, college, and graduate-level string players; professionals; and teachers.

Teacher: Professor of Viola Peter Slowik

Dates: July 26-August 5 (8-9:30 p.m. ET Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays)

Fee: $200 (or $250 with an optional one-on-one coaching session with Slowik)

From professionals searching for a renewal of the joy of practicing, to teachers seeking seasoned shortcuts to excellence, to advanced students looking to fully unlock their talent, Slowik’s engaging and challenging approach—“teaching from the inside out”—is designed to enlighten and inspire advanced players of all backgrounds. The course blends teacher presentations with student interaction and covers topics including energy flow and the body, sound production, fingerboard geography, and phrasing.


Joseph Lubben, executive director of Oberlin Conservatory Global and associate professor of music theory at Oberlin, piloted OC Global in summer 2020 with a music theory program designed for incoming Oberlin students. He curated the OC Global programs available in summer 2021, including the Music Theory Jumpstart course he leads.

“Since 2018, I've been realizing that you can make close connections in the online-education world, and I've been championing this as a way to make Oberlin's campus a little bigger," says Lubben. "What we've all learned during the pandemic is that online access in the hands of great pedagogues is an incredibly effective way to bring the Oberlin experience to people across the globe.”

While OC Global’s first wave of courses is limited to summer 2021, additional offerings—including various forms of credit-bearing courses—are planned for year-round implementation in the future.

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