Thinking Outside the Box: Student Performance Opportunities in 2020-2021

Student Performances and Lessons

As the semester winds down, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on student performance and lesson opportunities. In my studio at SHSU, many of my students requested to do lessons and studio class 100% online. I also had a handful of students request a hybrid. So, we did lessons in both formats depending on the student’s preference. This year, so many decisions were made for us and without our consent. This year, more than ever, I have strived to provide my university students with a sense of purpose and agency during this crisis. 

COVID Spikes on Campus

In October, the cases on our campus started to spike. We went from reporting very few cases in a week to 70+. This was originally attributed to more testing on campus, however, my students reported otherwise. During October, a local club reopened and students started going regularly. Add Halloween to that at the start of flu season, and well, numbers rose quickly. 

Luckily, the numbers before Thanksgiving started to decline. The decline offered hope, but the fluctuation in numbers definitely inspired me to think outside the box for our end of semester studio recital.

Student Recital(s)

Music Knight Student Movie

This semester, we are doing a zoom recital. Not a live one, but a pre-recorded movie version.

One of the silver linings to teaching online has been getting students to submit videos and record themselves more regularly. While I encourage my students, even in non-pandemic times, to record themselves, they do not always do it. During the pandemic, however, students have found this recommendation more agreeable and have regularly recorded. 

So, in the spirit of social distancing and safety, we decided to do an alternate student performance. Since jury videos are due next week, I asked all of my viola students to send me pre-jury videos to turn into a performance. Each student selected a movement or piece they were most proud of, and I created a movie out of them. 

Excited to Share

What I am most excited about is the opportunity to invite family members and friends of students who would not normally get to see a performance in Huntsville. 

While I would love for there to be a very consistent background, sound, microphones, and video angles, that need pales in comparison with my desire for my students to feel safe, heard, and appreciated. 

nbk studio Student Performance(s)

In addition to doing this with my students at SHSU, I am planning a similar student performance event for my private students at home in Houston. 

At first, I was shy about telling them. I was afraid of pushback or that none of them would want to, but the reaction was the opposite. My students are so excited to have something to work towards, a project, a performance, a chance to share their hard work with others. 

Many of my private students opted for virtual school this semester. They have not been in a classroom since March. So many of the things they wanted to do, like Spring concerts, Region Concerts, Fall concerts, Children’s Concerts, and orchestra socials have all been canceled. One of my missions as a teacher is to provide my students with meaningful performance opportunities that are not competition based in any way. 

Proud Teacher Moments

I have been so touched, and so proud of my students at SHSU and nbk studios at home. They have all worked so hard and shown true excitement at the opportunity to perform in a zoom recital. 

The last year has been hard, but I’m so encouraged by the spirit, tenacity, and openness my students have shown. As we move into a new year in the next month or so, one of my goals is to provide as many safe, fun, and meaningful performance opportunities as I can for these amazing students I’m privileged to work with.

New Student Performance and Engagement Ideas for Spring 2021

backyard Bach
Back Yard Bach

Here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to organizing and doing:

  • More zoom recitals and streamed recitals on campus, in homes, and other spaces.
    • A few of my SHSU students have solo and chamber recitals in SP21.
    • I am thrilled to be doing two big recitals in the Spring. One will be in March with Sergio Pallottelli and Daniel Saenz, and the other is a solo recital in April.
    • I will also be providing more performance opportunities for my students at nbk studios and SHSU.
  • Backyard Bach Concerts
    • Beginning in 2021 I will be organizing a series of backyard (or porch, or patio) concerts for my students and for myself. All of my students are working on solo Bach, and there is no better rep (in my humble opinion) to share during this time of mostly isolated practice.
    • We recently upgraded our back patio and have created a beautiful space to host small concerts.
  • Viola-grams
    • Inspired by a friend (the excellent Jean Gay) I will be helping my students create short music videos and messages to share with loved ones and others.
  • Virtual Outreach Videos and Recitals for Retirement Home Residents
    • I have a heart for the elderly and those around us in nursing homes, memory facilities, and retirement communities. Right before the pandemic I started volunteering to play concerts at local community centers and retirement homes. In 2021, one of my studio (and personal) initiatives is to provide music and encouragement to these communities.