COVID-19 and Completion of Spring Semester 2020 Frequently Asked Questions

The conservatory pond on a sunny day.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin Conservatory

The following FAQ was developed based on recommendations made by Oberlin Conservatory’s Educational Policy Committee and approved by Oberlin Conservatory faculty on March 22, 2020.

Stipulations in this FAQ apply only to Spring Semester 2020 unless otherwise noted.

Facilities Access

All Conservatory facilities are closed to students until further notice.

Coursework and Academic Advising

How will I complete my spring semester courses?

Beginning March 30, classes will meet remotely at their currently scheduled times unless alternative instructions are provided by individual teachers. Updates to class syllabi and instructions on joining class sessions will be communicated to students by instructors by the resumption of classes on March 30. For questions about a particular course, please contact your instructor.

Can I change my courses to Pass/No Pass?

Students have until May 8 to choose P/NP for classes in which that option is available and permitted within the student’s major.

For this semester (Spring 2020) only, limitations on selecting Pass/No Pass have been lifted for MUTH I-IV, Aural Skills I-IV, and MHST 101. The P/NP option will not be automatically selected, so students who choose to be graded P/NP for these classes must select it by submitting the P/NP form by May 8. For this semester only, an advisor signature is not necessary for this form.

How should I handle academic advising for Fall Semester 2020?

An updated Academic Calendar is now available online.

Between now and April 6, students and advisors will receive further information from the Dean’s Office on advising for Fall 2020. Many registration-related forms may be downloaded and returned via email. For this semester only, RAP numbers will not be required. However, students should be in close touch with their advisors as they plan for next semester.

(See the section “Downloadable Documents” at the bottom of this page for Conservatory-specific forms.)

Registrar forms may be returned to
Conservatory forms may be returned to

How can I complete my non-course requirements?

Any necessary changes to non-course requirements will be presented by departments and vetted by the Office of the Conservatory Dean. Any changes will be communicated to students by the resumption of classes on March 30. Please see additional sections  for information specific to recital and jury requirements. For additional information, please consult your advisor or studio teacher.

Revisions approved April 16

Oberlin Conservatory’s default policies pertaining to Spring Semester 2020 remain those passed by the Educational Policy Committee (EPC) and Conservatory Faculty on March 22 and documented in this FAQ. As noted in those updates, EPC remains engaged in ongoing assessment of these policies in consultation with the College of Arts and Sciences’ Educational Plans and Policies Committee, the registrar, and conservatory students and faculty.

The following updates, approved by EPC on Thursday, April 16, have been made based on an additional three weeks of data, experience, and assessment.

Revised Grading Protocol for Spring Semester, 2020:

  • Replace P/NP (Pass/No Pass) with P/NE (Pass/No Entry) for all 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.
  • Letter grades remain the default grading system, unless the course was preauthorized as P/NP. Preauthorized P/NP-only courses will automatically become P/NE-only courses.
  • Students can elect P/NE up to 7 days after final grades are released (June 5, 2020).
  • 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.
  • Students who have already elected the P/NP grading option for their classes will automatically have the grading option for those classes converted into P/NE.
  • A one-time category of COVID 19 Incompletes will be offered to students in Conservatory courses; there is no limit on the number of incompletes that may be requested. Students must be in good standing in the course to request the incomplete and will negotiate the incomplete with the faculty member. Work must be submitted to the faculty member within a month of the end of the exam period (June 17, 2020).
  • Non-course requirements must be completed by the last day of finals (May 17).


Ensemble Requirements

Large Ensembles

Have I satisfied the requirements for my large instrumental ensemble?

Large-ensemble conductors will determine which students have already satisfied the semester’s requirements of music preparation, rehearsal, and performance. In cases where students have not yet satisfied these requirements, the conductors will provide students with a revised set of expectations by the resumption of classes on March 30. Students with specific questions about this requirement should contact their large-ensemble conductor.

Have I satisfied the requirements for my large vocal ensemble?

Students enrolled in Oberlin College Choir and Musical Union will complete alternate assignments online. These assignments will be communicated to students by their conductor by the resumption of classes on March 30.

Members of smaller vocal ensembles, such as Gospel Choir and Collegium Musicum, will proceed with revised syllabi and expectations from their respective conductors. These expectations will be communicated to students by their conductor by the resumption of classes on March 30.

Small Ensembles

Have I satisfied the requirements for my chamber music ensemble or other small ensemble?

In most cases, students will have further work to complete in order to satisfy the requirements for chamber ensembles. Your chamber music coach and/or Kirsten Docter (coordinator of chamber music) will be in touch to provide you with a revised set of expectations by the resumption of classes on March 30. For jazz majors with questions about completing JAZZ 803 (Jazz Ensemble-Small Group), please contact Robert Ferrazza (director of the Division of Jazz Studies).


Rather than cancel or waive the requirement for degree recitals, Oberlin is committed to accomplishing the following:

  1. Acknowledging the large amount of preparatory work already completed by students and faculty.
  2. Allowing for a more meaningful and focused continuation of the student-teacher relationship as we migrate to remote engagement.
  3. Underscoring the fact that we are preparing students for the professional world (because as we are seeing, professional musicians are also currently finding alternative means of delivery: video performances, podcasts, blog posts, etc.).
Will I be able to perform my degree recital in Oberlin?

No recitals will be performed in person in Oberlin for the remainder of the semester. However, students will have every opportunity to complete their recital requirement before the end of the Spring 2020 Semester.

Are there alternatives to presenting a degree recital?

Each department is authorized to define a range of options that may substitute for completion of a degree recital. Both junior and senior recitals may take the form of a performance or an equivalent capstone experience determined and approved by the corresponding department in consultation with the Dean’s Office. These may include (but are not limited to) recordings, streamed performances, hybrid projects, written assignments, etc. Expectations of each department will be communicated to students by the resumption of classes on March 30.

Do I still need to complete my recital to graduate?

Yes, degree recitals (in whatever form) need to be completed in order to ensure academic progress and graduation. It is essential for students to report completed recitals to Concert Production, preferably with some sort of variation of a program. This is particularly important for graduating seniors.

Can I postpone my junior or senior recital until after Spring Semester 2020?

All juniors and seniors are strongly encouraged to complete their scheduled recital requirements this semester. Please consult with your teacher to finalize a timeline for the completion of your recital requirement, ensuring that all expectations are clearly understood by both teacher and student.

While all students are strongly encouraged to complete their degree recital requirements on schedule, the decision to postpone may be made through consultation between teacher and student. Regardless of whether a recital is postponed, it remains essential that academic progress be maintained.

Priority booking for the first module of Fall Semester 2020 will be given to students who were forced to reschedule recitals that were previously booked for Spring 2020, and those students are strongly encouraged to schedule their recitals in the first module of Fall 2020. Depending on the number of students postponing to fall, juniors may be asked to share recital slots.

Additional information about rebooking recitals will be communicated to students and faculty in April.

Can I complete my recital in the fall semester 2020 without registering for lessons?

Yes, but only if you present the recital within the first four weeks of fall semester (an extension of the usual two weeks). Otherwise, students must register for hourly private-study lessons during the semester in which they present a degree recital.

How will my recital requirement be reported?

Students are required to report the completion of their recital to Concert Production. Concert Productions will then confirm completion with the applied teacher. This is particularly important for graduating seniors.


What is the status of juries?

Jury processes and procedures are overseen by departments in consultation with the Dean’s Office. Updates will be communicated from each department chair to all relevant students by the resumption of classes on March 30. Those updates will include matters such as when juries will take place, how students should prepare their work, how they will present or submit their work, and any other factors affecting their jury participation and outcomes. For additional questions, please contact your studio teacher.

Private Lessons

Will I continue to receive private lessons?

Yes. Private lessons will continue remotely. Faculty teachers will communicate syllabus updates and scheduling procedures to their students by the resumption of classes on March 30.

Will I continue my secondary lessons?

Secondary lessons taught by faculty should continue remotely and incorporate any necessary syllabus adjustments, similar to those made for principal private study. Revisions to private study expectations will take into consideration students’ access to instruments or other necessary resources to complete their work, and revisions may include completion of projects related to their private study (e.g., listening or analysis projects, historical study of their instrument, use of a different available instrument, etc.).

Lessons taught by student-teachers will also continue so that registered students can complete the credits for which they are registered. Faculty will guide student-teachers to ensure appropriate expectations are in place and clearly communicated to secondary students by the resumption of classes on March 30. All secondary lessons taught by students are graded Pass/No Pass.

Can I still serve as a student teacher of secondary lessons?

Yes. Available student-teachers may continue to be paid for teaching lessons remotely.

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