The Music Never Stops: Performance during Covid-19

Musicians and music lovers around the world are redefining what performance looks like during this time of Covid-19. We all want to play our part to keep everyone safe during these tumultuous times, but we also long for the connection and sense of community that music brings.

With classes starting again at the University of Memphis, many of our students are eager to get back to “normal.” But things are not quite back to normal yet. The first month of this fall semester is completely online, which brings about new challenges and experiences for our music students. How do we have lessons? What about our ensemble classes like band, orchestra, choir, and opera? And one of the most prevalent questions is…will we have performances?

The faculty and staff at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music want to help the School of Music stay prepared for what is to come, Dr. Kevin Sanders, Director of the School put together a steering committee that had representatives from all areas of the School of Music to address the fall semester. Dr. Albert Nguyen, Director of Bands and a member of the steering committee, noted, “We want to make sure the students get a return on their investment. We are not trying to re-create in a lesser way what we do, but to supplement what we do with things that we otherwise would not have time to do or have thought about doing. This has forced us to be really creative” Out of this demand to think creatively, the faculty came up with many great ideas and solutions so that the students and community alike would be fulfilled in their thirst for knowledge and music.

“The School of Music will be producing a lecture and concert series on a variety of topics, featuring some of our students and faculty and guests from across the music world as a way to share what we’re doing and engage the community and our friends online,” said Dr. Sanders. “Our faculty have also prioritized inviting guest artists from around the globe to share their experiences and artistry. Because of the online nature of these masterclasses, students will be able to interact with more professional musicians and industry experts than ever before.” The masterclasses and lectures will cover topics from the entrepreneurial musician to controversy in the Romantic Era; many of which will be available to the public. While many of these are still in the works, you can find more information about the ones already on the calendar for this year at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music webpage. Even though the guests and topics will be speaking to our students, don’t let that keep you from stopping by, As Dr. Nguyen beautifully said, “The message is one that anyone observing them can receive. Everyone can learn from the message of success, striving, and struggle.”

Thanks to the great work done by the School in streaming technology, we are now able to stream multi-camera angle, high quality productions of performances from Harris Concert Hall to our online community. We will also be utilizing streaming networks such as Vimeo for the live-streaming pop-up concerts if we are able to progress to a hybrid system after September. In the case of these pop-up concerts you’ll have to keep an eye out for them on our social media platforms as we post about them.

There is also the potential of remote recording projects which our students will be able to participate in in a variety of ways. Dr. Nguyen describes a situation where our students can work with studio quality recording equipment which will be set up in individual rooms so that they can still make music together in real time while social distancing.

While performing may look different here at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the moment, there is one thing that remains consistent: the music never stops. Whether we are making recordings to post, live-streaming pop-up concerts, or streaming lectures and masterclasses from guests around the world, our goal of creating music and nurturing knowledge will prevail.

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